Car theft in America is on the decline, according to the most recent reports by the FBI. But even with the drop in stolen vehicles, there were still an estimated 715,373 car thefts in 2011.

With the release of the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s “Hot Wheels” list — which shows the most frequently stolen cars by state as well as the country as a whole — national trends in auto theft can be put into greater focus.

For example, the first 16 slots on the overall most stolen cars list belong to cars made between the years 1990 and 2000.

But why would a car thief choose an older model instead of the newest make?

“Today’s cars have sophisticated ignition systems with key codes that identify the key or fob unique to that vehicle,” a video released by the NICB says. “Hotwiring is virtually impossible, and joyriding is limited to thieves who see a car with a key still in the ignition.”

But as the video also points out, professional car thieves who rely on more complex tactics than just hotwiring can still get newer cars if they try hard enough.

2 comments on this story

But what about in the state of Utah? Does the same logic apply?

Yes. In fact seven of the 10 most stolen models in the Beehive State were all made in the ’90s. Only two of the cars on the list are less than 20 years old, the third outlier was actually made in the 1970s.

The 10 most stolen cars in the state of Utah

The 10 most stolen cars in the U.S.

JJ Feinauer is a graduate of Southern Virginia University and a content writer for the Moneywise page on Email:, Twitter: @jjfeinauer.