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  • Cities With the Highest Car Theft Rates

    Cities with the Highest Auto Theft Rates

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, reports that over 700,000 vehicles are stolen annually in the U.S. The rate of stolen vehicles varies by location.

    While you are unlikely to move if you discover that you have a high rate of car thefts in your area, having this information can be useful. It can motivate you to take proactive steps to reduce your risk of having your vehicle stolen. As an added bonus, taking steps such as adding anti-theft features to your car can result in a car insurance discount.

    The following are the cities with the highest car theft rates over a 10-year period from 2003 to 2012, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). These lists are a per capita review of vehicle thefts from metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) in the U.S.

    Top Locations for Vehicle Theft By Year (2003 – 2012)

    2012

    California and Washington dominated the list of cities with the most instances of auto theft in 2012, with Modesto and Fresno being the highest-risk cities.

    1. Modesto, CA
    2. Fresno, CA
    3. Bakersfield, CA
    4. Stockton-Lodi, CA
    5. Yakima, WA
    6. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
    7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
    8. Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
    9. Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA
    10. Redding, CA

    2011

    Again, Fresno and Modesto topped the list of cities with the most stolen cars in 2011. While Washington and California still made up most of this list, South Carolina made an appearance with the city of Anderson at #8.

    1. Fresno, CA
    2. Modesto, CA
    3. Bakersfield-Delano, CA
    4. Spokane, WA
    5. Yakima, WA
    6. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
    7. Stockton, CA
    8. Anderson, SC
    9. Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
    10. Visalia-Porterville, CA

    2010

    In 2010, only two states were represented on the list of cities with the highest car theft rates. Californian cities took all but the fourth and tenth spots, with Spokane, WA, and Yakima, WA, in those respective positions.

    1. Fresno, CA
    2. Modesto, CA
    3. Bakersfield-Delano, CA
    4. Spokane, WA
    5. Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
    6. Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA
    7. Stockton, CA
    8. Visalia-Porterville, CA
    9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
    10. Yakima, WA

    2009

    Laredo, Texas, saw the highest rates of stolen vehicles in 2009, while Californian cities rounded out the top five. Yakima, WA, Las Vegas-Paradise, NV, and Albuquerque, NM, were the only cities outside of California to make the list.

    1. Laredo, TX
    2. Modesto, CA
    3. Bakersfield, CA
    4. Stockton, CA
    5. Fresno, CA
    6. Yakima, WA
    7. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
    8. Visalia-Porterville, CA
    9. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
    10. Albuquerque, NM

    2008

    Modesto, CA, Laredo, TX, and Yakima, WA had the highest car theft rates in the nation in 2008. The San Diego area, Bakersfield, Stockton, the San Francisco area, and Fresno also represented California.

    1. Modesto, CA
    2. Laredo, TX
    3. Yakima, WA
    4. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
    5. Bakersfield, CA
    6. Stockton, CA
    7. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
    8. Albuquerque, NM
    9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
    10. Fresno, CA

    2007

    Las Vegas-Paradise, NV, and Modesto, CA were first and second, respectively, in 2007. Two areas in Arizona showed up on the list this year: Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale and Tucson.

    1. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
    2. Modesto, CA
    3. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
    4. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
    5. Stockton, CA
    6. Albuquerque, NM
    7. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
    8. Laredo, TX
    9. Tucson, AZ
    10. Yakima, WA

    2006

    Las Vegas had the most stolen cars in 2006, with Modesto, CA dropping to fifth.

    1. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
    2. Stockton, CA
    3. Visalia-Porterville, CA
    4. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
    5. Modesto, CA
    6. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
    7. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA
    8. Fresno, CA
    9. Yakima, WA
    10. Tucson, AZ

    2005

    Modesto again was the city with the highest rates of car thefts in the United States in 2005. Four other Californian areas, Seattle and Yakima in Washington, Las Vegas-Paradise, Nevada, and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona, rounded out the top ten.

    1. Modesto, CA
    2. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
    3. Stockton, CA
    4. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
    5. Visalia-Porterville, CA
    6. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
    7. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA
    8. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
    9. Fresno, CA
    10. Yakima, WA

    2004

    With very little change at the top of the list, 2004 saw the highest rates in western cities.

    1. Modesto, CA
    2. Stockton-Lodi, CA
    3. Las Vegas, NV
    4. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ
    5. Sacramento, CA
    6. Oakland, CA
    7. Visalia-Tulare-Porterville, CA
    8. San Diego, CA
    9. Fresno, CA
    10. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA

    2003

    Western cities dominated the list, with Modesto, CA coming in first, and Las Vegas, NV plus five other cities in California also in the top 10.

    1. Modesto, CA
    2. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ
    3. Stockton-Lodi, CA
    4. Las Vegas, NV
    5. Sacramento, CA
    6. Fresno, CA
    7. Oakland, CA
    8. Miami, FL
    9. San Diego, CA
    10. Detroit, MI

    Protecting Your Vehicle from Theft

    If you are in a high-risk area, take extra precautions. The NHTSA suggests locking your car doors and windows, parking in well-lit areas, and not leaving valuables visible in your car. Because an estimated 40-50% of auto theft is due to driver error, taking these steps can significantly reduce your risk of having your vehicle stolen. The NICB also offers various fact sheets on protecting your vehicle from theft and fraud.

    Also consider adding anti-theft devices to your car, such as an alarm or a kill switch that will not allow your car to start if it hasn’t been flipped on. Adding these features to your car can earn you a discount on your car insurance premiums.