Motor Vehicle Theft (UCR) | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Motor vehicle theft, according to the UCR, is the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle.

In the UCR Program, a motor vehicle is a self-propelled vehicle that runs on land surfaces and not on rails.

Motor vehicle theft is a crime that involves the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. According to the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), motor vehicle theft is one of the seven categories of crime that make up the Crime Index. It is a serious crime that can have significant financial and emotional consequences for victims.

There are several types of such crimes, including joyriding, stripping, and resale. Joyriding involves the theft of a vehicle for the purpose of taking it for a joyride, without the intention of permanently keeping the vehicle. Stripping involves the theft of a vehicle for the purpose of stripping it of valuable parts, which can then be sold separately. Resale involves the theft of a vehicle for the purpose of reselling it on the black market.

Motor vehicle theft can have significant financial consequences for victims. In addition to the loss of the vehicle, victims may also face increased insurance premiums and the cost of replacing stolen items that were inside the vehicle at the time of the theft. The emotional impact of such thefts can also be significant, as victims may feel violated and unsafe in their own neighborhoods.

To combat these thefts, law enforcement agencies and policymakers have developed a variety of strategies and programs. These include increased community policing efforts, public awareness campaigns, and technology-based solutions such as GPS tracking devices and immobilizers. Law enforcement agencies also work closely with other agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection, to prevent the exportation of stolen vehicles.

In recent years, there has been a significant decrease in the number of motor vehicle thefts reported in the United States. According to the FBI’s UCR Program, the number of thefts of vehicles decreased by 4.0% in 2019 compared to the previous year. This decrease is likely due to a combination of factors, including improved law enforcement strategies and the use of technology-based solutions.

However, despite this overall decrease, certain populations remain at higher risk. For example, vehicles that are older or have fewer safety features may be more vulnerable to theft. Additionally, certain geographic areas may have higher rates of motor vehicle theft due to factors such as a lack of resources for law enforcement or a high demand for stolen vehicles in the local market.

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Last Modified: 06/27/2023


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