The month of July marks National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. To help drivers keep their vehicles safe, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is continuing its annual Vehicle Theft Prevention Campaign during July. In 2020 alone, more than three quarters of a million vehicles were stolen in the United States, costing vehicle owners more than $7 billion.

Vehicle theft is serious business. In the United States in 2020:

  • Passenger cars made up more than 74% of all stolen motor vehicles.
  • Only 56.4% of all stolen motor vehicles were recovered.
  • There were 804,400 motor vehicles stolen. This is an 11.8% increase from 2019.
  • A motor vehicle was stolen every 39 seconds.

Locally, the Iowa City Police Department receives an average of 109 vehicle thefts per year. In 2021, 118 vehicles were reported stolen in Iowa City. In 2020, that number was 147. The Iowa City Police Department also averages 16 theft from motor vehicle reports each month and 15 stolen bikes each month. 

Motor vehicle theft prevention tips

Fortunately, many of these crimes are preventable. In order to make your vehicle a less attractive target, follow these tips:

  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park.
  • Hide your valuables.
  • Do not leave your keys in your vehicle.
  • Do not leave the area while your vehicle is running.

Bike prevention tips

Steps can also be taken to help prevent your bike from being stolen:

  • Invest in a high-quality bike lock, such as a U-lock or D-lock and ensure the lock is used properly.
  • Take a photo of your bike. Be sure to note any distinguishing features or equipment. This will help officers locate your bike should it be stolen.
  • At home, keep your bike inside or lock the frame to a permanent fixture. 
  • When Downtown, use approved bike racks.  
  • Remove accessories when the bike is unattended. 
  • If your bike is stolen, report it immediately and provide the serial number on the report.

You can register your bike with the Iowa City Police Department. The ICPD can use your registration information to help recover your bicycle if it is lost or stolen. Stop by the Police Department at 410 E. Washington St. to register and pick-up your registration sticker. You'll need the serial number, which can typically be found under the bottom bracket where the two pedal cranks meet.

For more information on motor vehicle theft prevention, visit For additional resources, visit the FBI’s Motor Vehicle Theft Page.

Date of publication

Tuesday, July 05, 2022