California Tops Annual Report on Vehicle Theft


  • Vehicle Theft Hot Spots Picture

    Vehicle Theft Hot Spots Picture

    California has the dubious distinction of being the hot spot for vehicle theft. | June 26, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • California is a magnet for car thieves, once again dominating the annual Hot Spots vehicle theft report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
  • Eight of the top 10 areas are in California, with the remaining two from the state of Washington.
  • The Modesto, California metropolitan area is the number one spot for vehicle thefts, according to the report.

DES PLAINES, Illinois — California is a magnet for car thieves, once again dominating the annual Hot Spots vehicle theft report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Eight of the top 10 areas are in California, with the remaining two in Washington state.

The Modesto, California metropolitan area is the number one spot for vehicle thefts, followed by Fresno, Bakersfield-Delano and Stockton, according to the report.

Police are starting to fight vehicle theft using "bait cars" that are equipped with a dashboard-mounted camera to catch thieves. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the police have used a 2005 Toyota Corolla loaded with a laptop, cellphone and camera to lure thieves. Police say that thieves often have no intention of stealing the vehicle, but break into it to get items stored in plain sight.

The Western part of the U.S. saw a 10.6 percent increase in vehicle thefts from 2011. The other regions of the country reported drops in vehicle thefts.

Preliminary 2012 FBI figures estimate a 1.3 percent increase in 2012 thefts from the previous year.

The Hot Spots report is a per capita review of vehicle thefts from the nation's metropolitan statistical areas.

"NICB data is in line with preliminary FBI vehicle theft data for 2012 that appears to end an eight-year downward trend in vehicle theft," the NICB said in a statement on Wednesday.

Edmunds says: Experts say a simple way to fight vehicle theft is to store any gear in the trunk or take it with you, so thieves aren't tempted.

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