In 2022, Illinois experienced a staggering 35 percent surge in vehicle thefts, surpassing all other states, according to a recent report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. With a total of 38,649 car thefts last year, the state claimed the fifth spot on the list of highest car theft rates, trailing behind California, Texas, Washington, and Florida.
Chicago, in particular, saw a disconcerting 73 percent increase in automobile thefts over the past 12 months, compared to the average of the previous three years from January 2017 to May 2023.
The report also revealed the most stolen cars in Illinois. Topping the list was the 2015 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee, followed by the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu, 2020 Nissan Altima, 2008 Chevrolet Impala, 2007 Toyota Camry, and 2005 Ford pick-up (full-size), among others.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, part of an 18-state coalition, called for a federal recall in April of Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022. These vehicles lack effective engine immobilizers and have easily-bypassed ignition switches, making them highly susceptible to theft.
Hyundai and Kia are taking measures to address the issue, providing owners with anti-theft devices and theft deterrent software free of charge. A $200 million settlement, including $145 million for customers' losses, has been agreed upon to resolve ongoing litigation issues.
Factors contributing to the increase in vehicle thefts include the global pandemic, economic downturn, reduced juvenile outreach programs, law enforcement realignment, and vehicle owners' complacency. The report also highlights five reasons for vehicle theft, such as leaving keys in vehicles, valuables in plain sight, and parking in areas without surveillance.