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Auto Theft Information

About Auto Theft

Auto theft, also referred to as motor vehicle theft, is the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle.  Minnesota State Statute (609.52) defines a "motor vehicle" as "a self-propelled device for moving persons or property or pulling implements from one place to another, whether the device is operated on land, rails, water, or in the air."  A motor vehicle can include, but is not limited to a car, truck, van, bus, plane, motorcycle, boat, snowmobile, or trailer.  Auto theft is a felony. 

A motor vehicle is stolen every 33 seconds in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Nationally, in 2011, there were an estimated 715,373 thefts of motor vehicles, tallying more than $4.3 billion in losses.

Some cases of auto theft involve a carjacking.  A carjacking is the taking (theft) of a vehicle from its owner or driver with force or threat of force by another person.  Carjacking is considered to be a serious crime by law enforcement since a verbal or physical assault occurs during this crime. 

There are many costs to auto theft.  For the victim, there is the loss of time and money spent dealing with the incident and replacing their vehicle.  For everyone in the community, there is a cost as auto theft drives up insurance premiums.

Vehicles are stolen for a variety of reasons including transportation, to be stripped of parts or sound systems, to be sold to unsuspecting buyers, or to be used in the commission of another crime. 

Auto Theft in Minnesota and Suburban Ramsey County

Efforts to increase awareness of auto theft prevention, along with increased enforcement, have helped to reduce the incidence of auto theft in Minnesota by more than 37 percent since 2004.  Yet, in 2010, more than 8,400 vehicles were stolen in Minnesota, worth $21.3 million.

There is an average of over 3,000 auto thefts per year in Ramsey County.  For suburban Ramsey County in the cities of Arden Hills, Gem Lake, Little Canada, Maplewood, Mounds View, New Brighton, North Oaks, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake, White Bear Township, auto theft calls for service average about 600 per year.

For more information, please see Minnesota Department of Commerce Minnesota Auto Theft Prevention Program and visit the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Criminal Justice Data Reporting website.

Auto Theft in the United States

For national information, please see:

Prevent Auto Theft

Don’t let thieves make you a victim of auto theft, visit Auto Theft Prevention Tips.  


Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
Minnesota's First Law Enforcement Agency - Established 1849

Sheriff Matt Bostrom