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Vehicle thefts nationwide surpassed 1 million last year. This was a 7% increase over 2021 numbers and the first time thefts reached that total since 2008, according to a new analysis from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
“We are seeing vehicle theft numbers that we haven’t seen in nearly 15 years, and there is very little deterrent to stop criminals from committing these acts,” David Glawe, president and chief executive of NICB, said in a statement. “We must reinvest in local law enforcement, provide the necessary resources for prosecution and community policing programs and implement early intervention programs given the high incidence of juvenile offenders involved in vehicle thefts.”
Law enforcement agencies and communities reported over 250,000 thefts in the fourth quarter of 2022. California and Texas led the nation last year with the most reported stolen vehicles at roughly 202,700 and 105,000, respectively. Among the 10 states with the most vehicle thefts, Illinois (sixth-highest overall) had the most significant year-over-year increase of 35%. Following that was Washington (third-highest overall), with an increase of 31% from 2021.
The remaining states in the top 10 were Florida, Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, New York and Georgia. NICB used data from the National Crime Information Center to conduct its analysis.
Thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles spiked in recent years. In September, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) called Hyundai and Kia vehicles “easy targets” since many 2015 to 2019 model-year vehicles lack electronic immobilizers.
Electronic immobilizers prevent thieves from simply breaking into a vehicle and bypassing the ignition. Immobilizers were standard on 96% of other manufacturers’ vehicles in 2015 but standard on only 26% of Hyundai and Kia models, according to IIHS.
Some insurers, including Progressive and State Farm, started refusing to write policies for Hyundai and Kia models in certain cities. Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) issued a bulletin reminding insurers the state requires they offer auto insurance to all residents regardless of make or model—including Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
“In other states, some insurers have attempted to deny or limit auto coverage for [Kia and Hyundai vehicles],” Anita Fox, director of Michigan’s DIFS, said in a statement. “Our new bulletin clearly states that such actions are prohibited in Michigan. DIFS will continue to ensure that every eligible Michigan driver can get the auto insurance they need to legally drive on Michigan roads.”
Insurers can respond to the “indisputably” increased risk of Kia and Hyundai thefts by charging more for comprehensive coverage or choosing not to insure them, Robert Passmore, department vice president of personal lines at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), said.
“That said, any action that insurer would take would have to be in accordance with state law,” Passmore said in a written statement. States have rules about rate filing, canceling, and non-renewals. Also, some states have “take all comers” requirements prohibiting insurers from denying coverage based on vehicle make and model.
Kia and Hyundai have software fixes and other anti-theft devices available to drivers. Vehicle owners should contact their local dealer for more information. And, when shopping for insurance, be sure to let the insurer know if their vehicle has had the software upgrade.
Last year’s roughly 1.02 million stolen vehicles were just under 2008’s total of 1.05 million. NICB noted that law enforcement may still report thefts from 2022, meaning the numbers may change.
NICB recommends that vehicle owners follow good security practices and that their auto insurance policies are current. Owners should roll up their windows, lock their car doors, park personal vehicles in a garage, and park in well-lit areas.