10 Cities With the Highest Rates of Auto Theft

Car thief
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Want to keep your car from being stolen? Stay East, young driver!

Cities in the West — especially California — dominate the list of places in the U.S. where cars are most likely to be stolen, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s latest annual Hot Spots report.

In compiling the report, the nonprofit NICB analyzed vehicle theft data from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center to identify the U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest per capita rates of vehicle theft in 2018.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, topped the list again, despite a 28% drop in such thefts since 2016.

The NICB attributes Albuquerque’s improvement to the creation of a statewide Auto Theft Prevention Authority. But that success wasn’t enough to keep New Mexico’s capital from topping the Hot Spots list.

Western U.S. metropolitan areas dominate the rest of the top 10 rankings, which are as follows:

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Bakersfield, California
  • Pueblo, Colorado
  • Modesto, California
  • Redding, California
  • Stockton-Lodi, California
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, California
  • St. Joseph, Missouri

In explaining its rankings, the NICB notes that because Hot Spots is 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.”

That is why St. Joseph places 10th with 674 thefts, while Los Angeles places 38th with more than 53,000 thefts.

Overall, U.S. vehicle thefts were down 3.3% in 2018, according to preliminary data from the FBI. The NICB notes that thefts have been falling since 2004. Between 1991 and 2017, the number of cars stolen plunged 53%.

The NICB attributes the improvement to several factors:

“Vehicle manufacturers, law enforcement and legislatures have been responsive to the crime of vehicle theft over the years, and the results are evident.”

How to get the best car insurance rates

If you live in one of the states that made the NICB list, there’s a decent chance you are paying more for car insurance. Living in an area with high rates of theft can drive insurance premiums higher.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep a lid on your car insurance costs no matter where you live.

Perhaps the single best way to do that is shop around — periodically compare the rate you pay with the rates other insurers are offering.

You can do that by calling multiple insurers or filling out forms on their websites for quotes. Or, you can let a free third-party service like The Zebra or Gabi do the work for you, obtaining quotes for you to choose from.

For more tips, check out Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson’s “The Complete Guide to Getting the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance.”

How do you keep your car safe from thieves? Share your tips in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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