10 Metro Areas With the Most Car Thefts
California cities dominate the latest report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The NICB, a nonprofit organization that collects data for insurance companies, listed thefts from 366 metro areas, as defined and gathered by the FBI (note that the cities mentioned can include entire counties). Nationwide, motor-vehicle theft was down 3.3 percent, to about 713,000 reported thefts in 2011, according to preliminary statistics from the FBI. Fresno, Calif., was area No. 1, at a rate of 808 cars per 100,000 people, followed by Modesto, Calif., (639) and Bakersfield-Delano, Calif. (615). Spokane, Wash., filed in fourth (552). All four areas ranked the same in 2010.
The only other non-California areas to make the top 10 were Yakima, Wash., at No. 5 (529) and Anderson, S.C., at No. 8 (483). The California areas of Stockton, Vallejo-Fairfield and Visalia-Porterville rounded out the list at seven, nine and 10, respectively. Most of the California cities mentioned fall in the northern part of the state, particularly the San Francisco area, which recorded 23,223 vehicle thefts in 2011.
Interestingly, however, Los Angeles -- the self-proclaimed car capital of America -- recorded nearly 51,000 thefts, but due to its outsized population it placed well off the NICB's top 10 list. The report doesn't rank metro areas by the actual number of vehicle thefts. Often, the NCIB admits, there are many more American cities and counties with much smaller populations where you wouldn't want to park your car.
Another interesting tidbit: The city of Laredo, a border town in southwestern Texas, dropped to 53 last year after being No. 1 in 2009. That's thanks to increased police presence and overall public awareness, according to the NICB.
What's the most obvious advice to reduce your chances of theft? Common sense is one. Not driving a Cadillac Escalade or a mid-90s Honda Accord also helps.
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