The Most Stolen Cars in California: What You Need to Know


Updated: May 20, 2024

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According to the latest "Hot Wheels" report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), California's most stolen cars in 2021 reveals a mix of popular sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks. The top contenders are Chevrolet's full-size pickups, Honda Civic and Accord, Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Corolla and Honda CR-V.

Let's delve into the details of these sought-after models and explore the trends of car theft in the dynamic automotive landscape of California.

KEY TAKEAWAYS ON MOST STOLEN CARS IN CALIFORNIA
  • Full-size pickups from Chevrolet, Ford, and GMC were the top 3 most stolen cars in California in 2021.
  • Sedans from Japanese brands such as the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla and Kia Optima occupied the rest of our list of California's most stolen cars of 2021.
  • California’s car theft rate has been on the rise since 2018 and is now the third highest state in car thefts in 2021, with a theft rate of 511.05 (per 100,000 people), according to the NICB report.
  • California has the highest amount of car thefts across the U.S. at 202,685 vehicles reported stolen in 2022, a 1% increase from the previous year.

Sources: NICB Annual Auto Theft Report, NICB: Most Stolen Cars per State, NICB: Vehicle Thefts Nationwide Surpass One Million

Top 10 Stolen Cars in California

California, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, has its share of car thefts. But which cars are most often stolen? Discover the most stolen cars in California.

10. Kia Optima

Kia Optima
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 2,197
  • Model Most Stolen: 2015
  • Starting Price: $20,765

The Kia Optima is tenth on our list of California's most stolen cars. This year is its first entry on the list, with a reported 2,917 thefts as of 2021. The last model of the Kia is its 2020 iteration which J.D. Power owners rated at 80/100 overall, 83/100 for quality and reliability and 81/100 for driving experience. Owners liked the Kia Optima for its ease of entering the cabin and built-in voice assistant. The Kia K5 has replaced the Kia Optima as of 2021.

J.D. Power lists the starting price of the 2020 Kia Optima at $20,765.

9. Chevrolet Tahoe

Chevrolet Tahoe
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 3,908
  • Model Most Stolen: 2002
  • Starting Price: $48,841

The Chevrolet Tahoe is ninth on our list of most stolen cars in California. In 2021, the SUV had 3,098 reported thefts, increasing from 2,442 in 2020. According to J.D. Power, owners of the Chevrolet Tahoe gave the vehicle an overall score of 82/100. It received an average rating of 79/100 for quality and reliability, while it got an 85/100 for its driving experience. Chevy Tahoe owners liked the car for its navigation system and maneuverability. The 2021 Chevrolet Tahor has a starting price of $48,841.

8. Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 3,186
  • Model Most Stolen: 2020
  • Starting Price: $21,538

The Toyota Corolla lands in the eighth spot of the most stolen cars in California. The Corolla saw a slight decrease from 3,250 thefts in 2020 to 3,186 in 2021. J.D. Power noted it for its peppy Dynamic Force 2.0L engine, paddle shifters and a suite of driver assist systems. According to J.D. Power, the 2021 Toyota Corolla has a starting price of $21,538.

7. Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 3,940
  • Model Most Stolen: 2007
  • Starting Price: $25,352

The Toyota Camry was the seventh most stolen car in California in 2021. The Camry saw a decrease in thefts from 4,020 in 2020 to 3,940 in 2021. J.D. Power polled Camry owners and rated the car 83/100 overall and 84/100 on quality and reliability. The vehicle also earned an 83/100 on its driving experience. Owners noted the Camry’s economy and range in addition to its low car noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). J.D. Power lists the 2021 Toyota Camry’s starting price as $25,352.

6. Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 4,258
  • Model Most Stolen: 2000
  • Starting Price: $27,829

The Honda CR-V took the sixth spot in the most stolen cars in California in 2021. According to NICB, the Honda CR-Vs in California saw a decrease in thefts from 4,773 in 2020 down to 4,258 in 2021. Honda CR-V owners surveyed by J.D. Power rated it an overall 82/100, with quality and reliability earning an 84/100. Its driving experience received an average of 78/100. Car owners highlighted the car's economy, comfortable seats and ease of entering the passenger cabin. J.D. Power lists the 2021 Honda CR-V with a starting price of $27,829.

5. GMC Pickup (Full-Size)

GMC Sierra
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 2,129
  • Model Most Stolen: 2004
  • Starting Price: $29,952

The GMC Sierra 1500 ranks fifth in the most stolen cars in California in 2021. The full-size pickup had an increase in vehicle thefts to 5,034 thefts in 2021 compared to 3,736 in 2020. Verified GMC Sierra 1500 owners surveyed by J.D. Power rated the truck an overall 85/100, with its quality and reliability rated at 84/100 and its driving experience similarly at 84/100. The GMC Sierra is known as a tech-rich and high-performance truck among car owners. It features an infotainment system with smartphone compatibility, in-vehicle trailering apps and advanced safety features. According to J.D. Power, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is available at a starting price of $29,952.

4. Honda Accord

Honda Accord
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 9,681
  • Model Most Stolen: 1997
  • Starting Price: $26,167

The Honda Accord ranks fourth on California's list of most stolen cars of 2021. The NICB report notes 9,681 reported thefts of Honda Accords in 2021, down from 11,473 in 2020. Accord owners interviewed by J.D. Power gave this model an overall score of 82/100, with drivers giving their driving experience an 84/100 and the car's quality and reliability an 82/100. Honda Accord owners appreciate it for its powerful engine, adequate storage space and effective headlights. The 2021 Honda Accord has a going price of $26,167 per J.D. Power.

3. Ford Pickup (Full-Size)

Ford F-150
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 10,332
  • Model Most Stolen: 2006
  • Starting Price: $32,966

The Ford F-150 ranked third on our list of most stolen cars in California in 2021. According to the NICB, the popular Ford truck had a reported theft count of 10,332 in 2021, an increase from 9,543 in 2020. J.D. Power recognizes the Ford F-Series of trucks as the best-selling truck across the United States. The consumer ratings agency gave the 2021 F-150 an overall score of 80/100, rating its quality and reliability at 77/100 and its driving experience at 82/100. Owners liked the car for its infotainment systems and maneuverability. J.D. Power reports that the 2021 Ford F-150 starts at $32,966.

2. Honda Civic

Honda Civic
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 13,507
  • Model Most Stolen: 2000
  • Starting Price: $23,948

The Honda Civic is the second most stolen car in California. In 2021, the NICB reported a decrease in thefts from 16,625 in 2020 to 13,507 in 2021, losing its status as the most stolen car in California. Verified Honda Civic owners in J.D. Power rated it 83/100 overall, with the car's driving experience earning 86/100. Owners gave it a score of 82/100 for quality and reliability. Honda Civic owners gave the vehicle a thumbs up for its engine power and convenient storage spaces. According to J.D. Power, a 2021 Honda Civic starts at around $23,948.

1. Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)

Chevrolet Silverado
Stats

  • Number of Thefts: 15,462
  • Model Most Stolen: 2001
  • Starting Price: $27,841

The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 was the most stolen car in California in 2021. The latest NICB report showed increased thefts from 11,408 in 2020 to 15,462 in 2021, surpassing the Honda Civic as the state’s most stolen car. Silverado owners surveyed by J.D. Power rated the vehicle an overall 83/100, with drivers giving its quality and reliability an 83/100 while rating its driving experience an average of 75/100. Per J.D. Power, the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has a starting price of $27,841.

Understanding Car Theft Trends in California

In the period spanning from 2018 to 2021, California saw an overall upward trend in its motor vehicle theft rates, measured per 100,000 people. While there was a slight decrease in 2019, dropping to 359.5, this was followed by a significant increase in 2020 and 2021, with the latter year recording the highest rate of 511.1. This trend underscores a growing issue of car thefts in the state, requiring increased attention and preventive measures.

Car Theft Rate in California, 2018–2021

FAQ About California's Most Stolen Cars

What are the most commonly stolen vehicles in California?
What should I do if my car is stolen in California?
Why do thieves target certain car models more than others?
What can I do to prevent my car from being stolen?
If my car is stolen and recovered, will my insurance cover any damages?

Related Resources

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About Nathan Paulus


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Nathan Paulus is the Head of Content Marketing at MoneyGeek, with nearly 10 years of experience researching and creating content related to personal finance and financial literacy.

Paulus has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life build stronger financial foundations.


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