After a long day at work, you pull into your driveway and head inside, but forget to grab your keys from the ignition. The following morning, your car has vanished.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, a vehicle was stolen every 46 seconds in the U.S. in 2014; 689,527 vehicles in all. About 45 percent of stolen vehicles are never recovered, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
With this in mind, we at HomeInsurance.com decided to take a look at the 15 midsize cities throughout the country with the lowest rate of vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents in the first half of 2015. Our findings are as follows, ranked from the lowest to the highest:
1. Gilbert, Arizona
Gilbert had 27.18 vehicle thefts per 100,000 people in 2015. The city has 235,430 residents and occupies 76 square miles of southcentral Arizona. Gilbert is known for being a low-crime city, and in 2005 it was recognized by the FBI as the largest town in the country to have zero murders. Gilbert also had no homicides in 2014. And in 2012, the CQ Press – a Washington, DC-based publication that discusses government and politics – rated Gilbert as the 25th safest municipality in the nation.
2. Aurora, Illinois
Aurora had the fewest total motor vehicle thefts (55) of all the cities on our list in 2015 and a vehicle theft rate of 27.44 per 100,000 people that same year. The Illinois city, a suburb of Chicago, has 200,419 residents. Aurora is known for its historic architecture, including the Italianate-style Tanner House, the Two Brothers Roundhouse and the Venetian- and Art Deco-style Paramount Theatre. Notable films and TV shows have been set or filmed in Aurora, including Wayne’s World – a film based upon a Saturday Night Live skit – and Prison Break.
3. Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale, a city of 229,325 residents, had a vehicle theft rate of 39.68 per 100,000 people in 2015. The city reported just 91 incidents of vehicle theft that year. “The West’s Most Western Town” occupies 184 square miles of Arizona. Scottsdale’s mountainous landscape and warm climate make it a beautiful place to visit and live. With more than 200 golf courses, it’s known for being a prime location for golfers. Plus, the city’s proximity to Phoenix makes Scottsdale an ideal location for sports fans. The Suns (NBA), Cardinals (NFL), Diamondbacks (MLB) and Coyotes (NHL) all play just a short drive away.
4. Irvine, California
Irvine had a vehicle theft rate of 41.16 per 100,000 residents in 2015. The city has a population of 242,971 and is located in Orange County. Several notable businesses are headquartered or have major outposts in the city, including Sega’s U.S. headquarters, In-N-Out Burger, Taco Bell, LA Fitness, Vizio and Gateway, Inc. Irvine’s Mediterranean climate, proximity to the ocean and view of mountains combine to create a beautiful aesthetic that has made the city a favored filming location for popular movies, including Poltergeist, Iron Man, Zero Dark Thirty, Transformers and Ocean’s Eleven.
5. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison has a population of 245,788 and had a vehicle theft rate of 41.5 per 100,000 people last year. The capital city of Wisconsin, Madison is the second largest city in the state and is known as “The City of Four Lakes” for lakes Mendota, Kegonsa, Waubesa and Monona within city limits or nearby. Madison has an eclectic music scene and is home to several summer music festivals, including the Waterfront Festival, Reverence – an electronic music festival – and the Isthmus Jazz Festival.
6. Chandler, Arizona
In 2015, Chandler had a vehicle theft rate of 42.4 per 100,000 people. The city is home to 252,369 residents and had 107 incidents of vehicle theft in 2015. A suburb of Phoenix, Chandler is known for its annual Ostrich Festival. When the city was founded, the most lucrative business was agriculture. Early in the 20th century, a slew of ostrich farms popped up to satisfy the need for plumes – long, soft feathers– often used to decorate women’s hats. Though times have changed, the Ostrich Festival honors Chandler’s history and attracts many visitors with its ostrich races (both chariot and bareback), carnival rides and live music.
7. Plano, Texas
Plano’s 2015 rate of vehicle theft was 42.47 per 100,000 residents. The city has a population of 277,822 and is the headquarters of several major corporations, including Frito-Lay, Rent-A-Center, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., J.C. Penny, Dell Services and Pizza Hut. Plano was ranked as the “Safest City in America” for cities with populations of 250,000 or more by Forbes.com in 2010 and 2011.
8. Virginia Beach, Virginia
With a population of 451,102, Virginia Beach is the largest city on our list. Its 2015 vehicle theft rate was 43.45 per 100,000 people. Virginia Beach’s points of interest range from art displays to historical sites, including the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, concerts at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater and the Adam Thoroughgood House, which is one of the oldest colonial homes in the state still standing. Virginia Beach is also the hometown of several big names in the music industry, including Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott and Timbaland.
9. Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk’s rate of vehicle theft in 2015 was 57.88 per 100,000 residents – a total of 143 overall. The city has a population of 247,048. Norfolk is the location of Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Norfolk is known for its arts and culture, most notably the Chrysler Museum of Art, which features the Glass Studio – an extensive glass collection – and American neoclassical marble structures. Other museums include Nauticus, which features hands-on exhibits and houses the USS Wisconsin – one of the last battleships built in the U.S. – and the Hermitage Foundation Museum, which displays a wide variety of Asian and Western art.
10. Fort Wayne, Indiana
This Indiana city has 257,172 residents and, in 2015, a vehicle theft rate of 59.1 per 100,000 people. Fort Wayne is the second-largest city in the state and hosts an array of festivals, including the Johnny Appleseed Festival and the Three Rivers Festival. The former is held at Johnny Appleseed Park – where the pioneer John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman is buried – and features foods and crafts made with apples, along with demonstrations of pioneer life. The Three Rivers Festival hosts more than 200 events over nine days, including a hot dog eating contest, a parade and arts fair. The festivals each draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city.
11. Boise, Idaho
Boise had a vehicle theft rate of 61.04 per 100,000 people in 2015, with a total of 132 thefts. The city, which is the state capital and largest city in Idaho, has a population of 216,260. Boise is a hub for indie and jazz music and hosts the Treefort Music Fest each year, which provides a stage for new bands. Boise has been praised for its quality of life (U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live 2009) and as a top city for jobs (Forbes Magazine’s 2007 and 2008 editions of Best Places for Business and Careers).
12. Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln, the capital city of the Cornhusker State, has 271,208 residents and a 2015 vehicle theft rate of 62.31 per 100,000 people. Lincoln is home to the University of Nebraska, which has 22 men’s and women’s teams for sports fans to enjoy. The city’s 125 parks include the Sunken Gardens, a beautiful park with two reflecting pools and a waterfall. It’s the only garden in the state to be recognized by the National Geographic Guide to Public Gardens.
13. Laredo, Texas
Laredo experienced a vehicle theft rate of 63.75 per 100,000 people in 2015. The city has a population of 250,994 and is known for Washington’s Birthday Celebration, a month-long event to celebrate the birthday of the nation’s first president. The event coincides with several other festivals in February, including Jamboozie – a Mardi Gras-like celebration during which people dress in masks, beads and colorful attire – and the Jalapeño Festival. The latter features a jalapeno eating contest, which gives participants 15 minutes to devour as many of the spicy peppers as possible.
14. Chesapeake, Virginia
Chesapeake is home to 232,489 residents. The city’s rate of vehicle theft was 67.96 per 100,000 people in 2015. Two Navy bases lay within Chesapeake’s city limits: the Northwest Annex and Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress. Other points of interest include the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal, Chesapeake Arboretum and Dismal Swamp Canal.
15. Yonkers, New York
The final city on our list is Yonkers, with a vehicle theft rate of 70.78 per 100,000 people in 2015. Yonkers, with 200,624 residents, reported 142 vehicle thefts in 2015. According to the Yonkers Police Department, property crimes and violent crimes have steadily declined from 2005 to 2014. The city has much to offer residents and visitors, including attractions such as the Science Barge – an urban farm floating on the Hudson River and powered by wind turbines, solar panels and biofuels – and the Hudson River Museum, which not only features art, but science, heritage and history displays as well.
Preventing Vehicle Theft
As the mercury rises, it’s crucial to be cautious. The NHTSA reports that half of vehicle thefts are due to drivers’ errors, and the peak months are July and August. Here are a few tips to help decrease your chances of vehicle theft:
- Never leave your keys in the ignition. And always be sure to lock your vehicle and close windows and sunroofs.
- Have your vehicle identification number (VIN) etched onto various parts of the car. A sticker can be peeled off, so having the VIN etched on windows and doors makes the parts easily identifiable if a chop shop dismantles the vehicle.
- Park in secure or highly visible areas, such as garages or under a street light. Thieves are less likely to steal your car if they can easily be seen.
- If your car doesn’t already have one, install an anti-theft device.
Based on data collected by the FBI, including offenses reported to law enforcement. The numbers shown are offenses known to law enforcement for the first six months (Jan.-June) of 2015.
Rankings were based on the rate of vehicle thefts per 100,000 people, according to 2014 U.S. Census Population estimates. The data was then filtered to include cities with populations between 200,000 and 500,000 residents.