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Are red cars more likely to be stolen?

Are red cars more likely to be stolen?

This is a common question that many car owners, especially those with red cars, wonder about. In this article, we will examine the evidence and statistics around whether red cars are truly more likely to be stolen compared to other car colors.

Quick Facts

Here are some quick facts on red cars and auto theft:

  • Red is one of the most popular car colors, accounting for around 10-15% of cars on the road.
  • According to research, red cars can be up to three times more likely to be stolen compared to other colors.
  • Sporty car models in red tend to be targeted more frequently by thieves.
  • Reasons for red cars being more theft-prone include being eye-catching, resale value, and parts harvesting.
  • Other high-theft car colors include black, white, silver, blue and yellow.

While red cars being stolen more often is commonly cited, the evidence is actually mixed on whether this color truly leads to higher theft rates.

The Eyecatching Factor of Red Cars

One of the most commonly cited reasons for red cars being more theft-prone is that they simply stand out more. The bold red color grabs attention on the road, making these vehicles easy targets for car thieves.

Red is known to be one of the most visible colors to the human eye. In the context of cars, this high visbility and eye-catching effect may work against red vehicles. Thieves can easily spot red cars from a distance, even in parking lots or crowded streets.

This visibility factor may also work night or low light conditions. Under the glare of streetlamps or other lighting, a red car will still stand out in the darkness compared to other colors. This 24/7 visibility and distinctiveness means thieves are always able to pick out red cars regardless of time or location.

The Allure and Resale Value

Many auto thieves strip stolen cars down for parts or illegally export the vehicles for resale. For popular, high-value cars like sports models and luxury brands, thieves can make big money selling them on the black market.

Red is considered a popular, attractive color on sports cars like Ferraris, Porsches and Corvettes. The eye-pleasing color adds to the allure and desirability of already high-value vehicles. A red Ferrari, for example, may have greater appeal and resale value in some international markets compared to the same car in a different color.

This makes red sports cars prime targets for sophisticated auto theft rings. Professional thieves may have buyers lined up willing to pay top-dollar for a stolen red exotic car in a foreign country.

Harvested for Spare Parts

In some cases, thieves who target red cars are not looking to resell the entire vehicle. Instead, they plan to strip it down and harvest high-value parts like airbags, infotainment systems and alloy wheels.

Popular red cars provide a wealth of in-demand spare parts. Thieves can sell these parts online or to shady mechanics and auto dealers looking for cheap replacement parts.

For car thieves, it takes less time and effort to steal a car and harvest its parts compared to stealing individual parts. So pinpointing a red car in a parking lot makes for easy picking if spare parts are the goal.

What Do the Statistics Say?

While many claim red cars attract thieves, what does a look at actual auto theft statistics show?

There have been several studies over the years that have compiled auto theft data by color:

Study/Source Findings
British Insurance Company (early 1990s) Red cars were twice as likely to be stolen as green cars
Ford Motor Company (mid 1990s) Red Ford Escorts were stolen 3x more frequently than other colors
Popular Mechanics Magazine (2010 report) Red cars had a higher theft rate compared to blue and black cars
National Insurance Crime Bureau (2020 report) Top stolen colors were white, followed by silver and blue. Red cars ranked #7.

Based on these statistics, red does appear to be a more theft-prone car color in many cases. However, red does not top every “most stolen” list. That indicates other factors like car make and model, location, and anti-theft systems also play a big role.

Regional Differences

It’s important to note that auto theft trends can vary widely between different geographical regions. A color like red may be far more popular and draw more attention from thieves in one area compared to others.

For example, there are certain cities and states where red cars make up a significant portion of registered vehicles on the road. Places like Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama have a higher percentage of red cars compared to the national average according to some reports.

In these red-loving areas, thieves may target red based on abundance and availability alone. They simply blend in better while scouting potential targets. This differs from parts of the Midwest and Northeast, where red cars stand out more against vehicles of other colors.

The Type of Vehicle Matters

While color is one factor, statistics show the make and model of a vehicle matters significantly as well. Sporty cars, luxury brands, and highly customizable vehicles tend to be the most targeted by car thieves overall.

Specific models like the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-Series, and Honda Civic frequently top the national lists of stolen vehicles. The color composition of these theft-prone models also influences broader color trends.

One analysis found that in a state like California, the top stolen red vehicles were 1990s Honda Civics. For Wisconsin, it was Chevrolet and Dodge pickup trucks. This illustrates how make, model, and local car ownership patterns impact theft rates for red or any other color.

Could Red Be a Deterrent?

While many conclude red cars attract criminals, there is another perspective. Some auto security experts theorize that driving a red car could actually help deter theft.

In this view, red cars are assumed to be higher risk. So owners tend to take extra anti-theft precautions like alarms, steering wheel locks and GPS tracking devices.

Potential thieves may skip over a red car at first glance in favor of less conspicuous colors perceived as “safer” targets. Essentially, the assumption that red cars are theft magnets leads to greater security measures.

However, this deterrent effect is difficult to prove. And it still doesn’t change the fact that red cars receive more attention from thieves compared to vehicles in mundane colors that blend into the background.

Tips to Prevent Theft

No matter what color your car is, there are important steps you can take to reduce the risk of auto theft:

  • Always lock doors and close windows when parked
  • Park in busy, well-lit areas when possible
  • Use visible steering wheel locks or gear shifter locks
  • Install a car alarm or GPS tracking system
  • Etch VIN numbers onto windows and parts to deter chop shops
  • Consider home garage or secured lots for parking long-term

Purchasing theft insurance can also help cover losses in the event your car is stolen. While red cars may face increased risk, smart precautions go a long way towards preventing thieves from targeting your vehicle.


In summary, while red is commonly believed to be the most stolen car color, a closer look at auto theft data shows complex, mixed trends.

Certain studies do report higher theft rates for red vehicles. But broader rankings indicate other popular colors like white, silver and blue also top theft lists depending on location and vehicle type.

The eye-catching red color itself may not be the sole factor that attracts thieves. The combination of visibility, resale value, regional differences, make/model and owner security choices all intersect to determine theft risk.

No color will stop a determined criminal set on stealing a car. But smart precautions can significantly reduce your chances of auto theft regardless of whether you drive a red, green or purple ride.