California is Stolen Vehicle Capital in US

The latest ‘Hot Spots’ report on vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) shows that California occupies Nine of the Top Ten locales for stolen vehicles in each of the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).

This is the first time that California has held nine of the Top Ten spots for MSAs with the highest per capita vehicle theft rates. In 2012, it held eight and in 2011, seven. Theft rates in 2013 are at the lowest levels since 1967.

However, to be fair, as a population-based survey, an area with a much smaller population and a moderate number of thefts can–and often does–have a higher theft rate than an area with a much more significant vehicle theft problem and a larger population to absorb it.

For 2013, the 10 MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas) with the highest vehicle theft rates were:
(2013 Ranking vs 2012 Ranking)
1. Bakersfield, Calif. 3
2. Fresno, Calif. 2
3. Modesto, Calif. 1
4. San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, Calif. 6
5. Stockton-Lodi, Calif. 4
6. Redding, Calif. 10
7. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. 9
8. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. 8
9. San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, Calif. 7
10. Yuba City, Calif. 31

Although national vehicle thefts continue to decline, NICB still recommends that drivers follow our four “layers of protection” to guard against vehicle theft:

The common sense approach to protection is the easiest and most cost–effective way to thwart would-be thieves. You should always:

  • Remove your keys from the ignition
  • Lock your doors /close your windows
  • Park in a well–lit area

The second layer of protection is a visible or audible warning device that alerts thieves your vehicle is protected. Popular devices include:

  • Audible alarms
    • Steering column collars
    • Steering wheel/brake pedal lock
    • Brake locks
    • Wheel locks
    • Theft deterrent decals
    • Identification markers in or on vehicle
    • VIN etching
    • Microdot marking

The third layer of protection is a device, which prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated. Some examples are:

  • Smart keys
    • Fuse cut-offs
    • Kill switches

The final layer of protection is a tracking device, which emits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ “telematics” which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.


About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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