Skip to main content
Two police cars, who could find a stolen car, parked beside each other with lights in the background.

There’s a 1 in 5 Chance You’ll Get Your Car Back if it’s Stolen

Some studies are coming out now offering new insights into the unfortunate situations regarding stolen cars and stolen car recovery. It seems vehicle theft continues to be a problem. And current analytics suggest there's a one in five chance you'll recover your car after it's been taken.

Have you ever had your car stolen? If you have, were you able to locate and recover it? Some studies are coming out now offering new insights into the unfortunate situations regarding stolen cars and recovery. It seems vehicle theft continues to be a problem. And current analytics suggest there’s a one in five chance you’ll recover your car after it’s been taken. 

Some of the data regarding stolen cars and stolen car recovery

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is offering reports already indicating car thefts are up in 2021, reversing a two-year decline. In actual numbers, that’s roughly 73,000 more stolen cars. In Washington D.C. alone, roughly 50 cars are reported stolen every day. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), around $6.4 billion was lost entirely to motor vehicle theft in 2019 overall. Getting the car back after it’s been taken is an entirely different set of dynamics that you might find startling. 

Since it’s hard to predict how a thief might think, it’s hard to say if they plan to keep your stolen car. Based on other stats provided by the Recovery Network, the most important factor that leads to recovery is where the vehicle is found. 

There’s a 20% chance your vehicle was stolen only for a joyride, offering a 12% chance your car comes back unharmed. Data suggests 30% of stolen cars end up being used in other crimes, including parted out for cash at area chop shops.

The stolen car in question is 50% likely to end up on the black market in rare, classic, or exotic car scenarios. Statista reported that for 2019, the recovery rate was roughly 56.1%. However, overall, there is a one in five likelihood that you’ll get your car back, which seems pretty low.

Why do the stolen car recovery rates seem so low?

About 1/3 of stolen vehicles ever recovered come back to their owners with $1,000 worth of damage. One in three is estimated to come back beyond repair altogether. So, why do these recovery rates seem so low? Is it possible vehicle owners are quick to process insurance claims and move on without pursuing recovery beyond a certain time? Are there bad-apple car owners out there making a profit on their insurance claims? It’s hard to say.

There are reasons to support higher rates of vehicle returns, including the existence of state and national databases law enforcement use, making it harder to “hide” or sell a vehicle that has been stolen. And there are incredible tales of stolen cars finding their ways back to their original owners, sometimes decades later.

How long before it is actually found and returned?


1 Man’s Stolen Camaro Was Finally Found After 33 Years

On average, law enforcement can typically find a stolen car with 48 hours of reporting it stolen. But some cars take much, much longer to make their way back to their owners’ garages. One such story featured a stolen Ferrari 308 GTS supercar that, in a crazy turn of events, ended up on consignment after a trip to Poland and returning to its owner some 30 years later. It’s a stolen car recovery tale that doesn’t represent the norm, but it certainly offers some hope to those still missing their beloved cars.

Your first line of defense to recovering your stolen car is to try and avoid theft in the first place. There are great anti-theft devices on today’s vehicles that might help, but basic steps like closing the garage door at night, keeping your vehicle doors locked at all times, and parking in secure areas whenever possible will help reduce the risks.