Motor vehicle theft is the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle. Nationwide in the United States in 2012, there were an estimated 721,053 motor vehicle thefts, or approximately 229.7 motor vehicles stolen for every 100,000 inhabitants. Property losses due to motor vehicle theft in 2012 were estimated at $4.3 billion.
A thin metal strap or rod that slips inside a door's cavity at the base of the window, to manipulate an internal locking mechanism or linkage. A famously known tool is called the "Slim Jim".
A long rod with a hooked end that slips between door and frame, or through an opened window, that can reach and manipulate the door handle or lock from inside the vehicle cab. (A primary technique used professionally.)
Broken pieces of ceramic, often from a spark plug insulator, used for throwing at car door windows so they shatter quietly.
Specially cut or filed-down car keys, numerous tryout keys, jigglers and other lock picking tools.
Slide hammer puller to break apart door locks, steering-wheel locks, and ignition switch locks by forced removal of the cylinder core.
Multimeter or electrician's test lamp to locate a power source, for disabling alarms and jump starting vehicles.
Spare wires and/or a screwdriver to connect a power source to the ignition and starter wires.
Unusual looking electronics gear that may include; laptop or tablet, radio antennas, cables, battery packs, and other modified computer components that look homemade.
Many keyless ignition/lock cars have weak cryptographic protection of their unlock radio signal or are susceptible to some form of record-and-playback or range extending attack. While proof-of-concept "thefts" of top-of-the-line luxury cars have been demonstrated by academic researchers using commercially available tools, such as RFID microreaders, examples of actual car theft using these methods are not very prevalent.
A firearm, knife or other weapon used to either break a window and/or threaten a person inside the vehicle.
OBD key cloning kit.
Recovery rates for stolen vehicles vary, depending on the effort a jurisdiction's police department puts into recovery, and devices a vehicle has installed to assist in the process.
Police departments use various methods of recovering stolen vehicles, such as random checks of vehicles that come in front of a patrol unit, checks of all vehicles parked along a street or within a parking lot using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) or keeping a watchlist of all the vehicles reported stolen by their owners. Police departments also receive tips on the location of stolen vehicles through StolenCar.com or isitnicked.com in the United Kingdom.
In the UK, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) provides information on the registration of vehicles to certain companies for consumer protection and anti-fraud purposes. The information may be added to by companies with details from the police, finance and insurance companies. Such companies include Carfax in the US, AutoCheck and CarCheck in the United Kingdom, and Cartell in Ireland, which then provide online car check services for the public and motor trade.
Vehicle tracking systems, such as LoJack, automatic vehicle location, or OnStar, may enable the location of the vehicle to be tracked by local law enforcement or a private company. Other security devices such as microdot identification allow individual parts of a vehicle to also be identified and potentially returned.