Auto thefts in Arizona fell 6% last year due to various factors, expert says

May 29, 2024, 7:00 AM

Auto thefts in Arizona fell from 2022 to 2023, new report found...

Arizona's auto thefts are down, especially compared to neighboring states like New Mexico and California, officials said. (Pexels photo)

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX — Auto thefts in Arizona fell by 6% last year, according to a report from The National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The report analyzed the total amount of auto thefts across all states in the U.S. Researchers determined this by analyzing the number of auto thefts per 100,000 state residents.

The report ranked Arizona as the 19th state whose residents were most likely to have their vehicle stolen in 2023. This ranking represented a drop from 2022. Two years ago, Arizona was the 15th in the country.

“We had 20,255 vehicles stolen in 2023, which is about a little more than a 6% decrease from calendar year 2022,” James McGuffin, the director of the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority, told KTAR News 92.3 FM last week. “So that’s really good news.”

Why auto thefts in Arizona fell in 2023

Many factors play into the declining rate of auto theft in Arizona, MacGuffin said.

Firstly, there’s the Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force, which the Department of Public Safety runs and the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority funds.

“We certainly believe that the law enforcement efforts of not only DPS, but also participating agencies in that task force have a positive effect on decreasing auto theft in the state,” McGuffin said.

Secondly, social media may also play a big role, particularly when it comes to Kias and Hyundais. Car thieves targeted both of these makes at high rates in 2023, he said.

However, thefts of Kias and Hyundais have fallen in 2024, according to McGuffin.

“We have seen those numbers reduce about 50% of the thefts that we saw in the last four months of 2023,” McGuffin said. “We know that the thefts are fueled by social media, and we think, maybe, some of that is starting to fall away.”

Arizona’s laws also help to keep repeat offenders off the streets, he said.

“I think one advantage that we have in Arizona that some states don’t have is that we have good statutes that allow for successful prosecution of offenders,” he said.

Part of that comes down to vertical prosecution. This lets a prosecutor work directly with an auto theft investigator. Generally, that prosecutor is intimately familiar with prosecution auto theft cases.

“That’s an advantage that we have in Arizona that some states don’t have,” McGuffin said.

What this means for Arizona drivers

“Our thefts seem to be a slight roller coaster some years,” McGuffin said.

Some years they’re up, while they’re down other years, he added.

However, the numbers are still better than some of the Grand Canyon state’s neighbors. Seven western and southwestern states are in the top 10 when it comes to auto theft rate.

“We have not seen the really high rates of theft that some of our neighboring states have seen, such as New Mexico, Colorado, California,” McGuffin said. “So, in that way, Arizona looks pretty good.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Balin Overstolz McNair contributed to this report.

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Auto thefts in Arizona fell 6% last year due to various factors, expert says