Where Does Theft Happen Most in The United States Today

Theft is a major problem in the United States as it is in most nations of the world. It is among the oldest forms of crime. Theft comes in many varieties. Some of the most common forms of theft are:


  • Shoplifting
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Auto theft
  • Bank robberies
  • Identity theft
  • Grand theft
  • White-collar crime theft (such as embezzlement)


It is interesting to note that the most common type of theft in America is none of the above. By far, the most common form of theft is wage theft. That’s according to the U.S. government’s National Employment Law Project (NELP).


Wage theft is when an employer finds a way to illegally skim wages or salaries from their workers. This form of theft is responsible for more than three times the economic loss of all other forms of theft combined, NELP statistics show. Furthermore, most wage theft affects those earning $13 per hour or less.


Now let’s take a look at other common forms of theft and where in the U.S. they happen the most.




The state of West Virginia ranks as No. 1 in terms of the amount of shoplifting per capita. It lost an average of $119 in tax revenue per resident in 2022, according to the Forbes Retail Theft Index. Only the District of Columbia has higher rates. The nation’s capital suffered 2,306 retail theft incidents per 100,000, according to Forbes. Other high-rate shoplifting states are Pennsylvania, Vermont and California. The state with the lowest shoplifting rate is Wyoming.




Burglary is when a home is broken into, and items of value are stolen. This form of theft is by far the most common in the state of New Mexico. There are almost 604 burglaries per 100,000 residents, according to Statista. The second worst state for burglary is Washington with 563 per 100,000. Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas round out the top five worst states for home thefts.


Auto Theft


The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) states that more than one million cars were stolen in 2022. The U.S. city with the highest auto theft rate was Pueblo, Colorado, with 1,086 reported. Bakersfield, California, was second worst with 1,072. Denver rounds out the top three car theft cities with 1,062.


However, the state with the most car thefts overall was California with 202,685. Texas came in second for car thefts with 105,015 and Florida third with 45,963.




Where in the U.S. are you most likely to get mugged, robbed at gunpoint or be robbed in some other way, such as by purse snatching? According to Security.org, a major security website, our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., has the highest robbery rate. Next worst is Maryland followed by California, New Mexico and Nevada as the top five states for robbery.


Wage Theft


Now let’s finish with the most common form of theft. By far, the state where wage theft occurs most often is New York. This is based on what state authorities were able to recover from employers who cheated their workers out of pay. New York recovered $11 billion in wage theft in 2022. The next biggest wage theft states are California, Arizona, Texas and New Jersey respectively, according to Legaljobs.

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