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If you live in one of the larger cities along the west coast you’re in the car theft capital of the U.S. In some of these cities, like Los Angeles, we get why it rates high on this list; its proximity to Mexico. If a thief can get a car over the border, it is usually gone for good. It won’t be recovered. But then there are other cities with the highest car thefts that don’t make as much sense.

Portland is the number one city for car thefts per capita

red 2017 Honda Civic sedan driving on highway bridge
2017 Honda Civic Sedan | Honda

The report was put together by It found that Portland is the city with the most car thefts, per capita. Per 100,000 residents, there were 487 car thefts. With the average rate considered to be 250 thefts per 100,000 people, that means you’re almost twice as likely to have your car stolen in Portland. Following Portland are San Jose, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. 

But, there are other stats that beat Portland by a bunch., While per capita Portland is at the top of the list, Los Angeles has far more cars stolen. There are around 44,000 more cars stolen per year than Portland’s 11,000. Yet, per capita, Los Angeles rates number 10 on the list. Following Los Angeles is San Francisco with 21,092; then Riverside, California, with 19,329; and finally Seattle with about a thousand fewer cars.  

While that is a lot of cars being ripped off, the good news is that theft rates are down 13% between 2017 to 2019. With COVID-19 curtailing as much traveling as it has, those numbers should be even lower once we get the 2020 figures. Now, let’s take a look at the most popular models in the thieves’ crosshairs. 

They’re not stealing Honda Civics in Beverly Hills, nor are they stealing Porsches in Bismarck

A red Chevy Silverado on display.
Chevy Silverado | Paul Warner/Getty Images

The popularity of certain models varies from one city or state to the next. Let’s put it this way: They’re not stealing Honda Civics in Beverly Hills. But for this exercise, we’ll use Arizona as our focus state. The most popular vehicles to steal are two of the most popular vehicles sold: Ford and Chevy pickups. The most stolen years are 2000 to 2007. These are followed by the 2000 Honda Civics and 1997 Accords. 

If you make it easy to steal, you risk it happening to you

A carjacker attempts to steal a car, when police recover it, the victim will need to pay to get it back.
A carjacker breaks into a vehicle | Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Ford F-Series Pickups Are a “Treasured Target” for Car Thieves

Out of the top five, the 2001 Ram closes out the list. In the top 10, an interesting one comes in at number 9: the 2001 Chevy Tahoe. This might be because they’re just more popular in Arizona, or it could be that they are easier to steal. The report says, “This reflects national trends with Hondas and pickup trucks being among the top vehicles stolen for several years.”

Often, thieves will pick vehicles to steal depending on how easy it is to steal them, and how valuable their parts are for resale. That’s why many of the most stolen vehicles have model ages dating back to the mid-2000s or older. They have fewer anti-theft devices.