Fresno, Calif., retained its dubious place at the top of the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) list of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with the most auto thefts per capita—MSAs are often larger than their namesakes, for example, the top spot encompasses all of Fresno County, not just the city. Following Fresno were more west coast municipalities: Modesto, Calif.; Bakersfield-Delano, Calif.; Spokane, Wash.; and Yakima, Wash.
In the NICB’s annual Hot Spots report, it was also noted that 2011 is on pace to become another consecutive year of declining vehicle thefts. Four of the top 10 MSAs reported more thefts in 2011 (+925 collectively) while the remaining six posted fewer (-2,017 collectively).
For 2011, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were:
1. Fresno, Calif. (last year’s ranking: 1)
2. Modesto, Calif. (2)
3. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif. (3)
4. Spokane, Wash. (4)
5. Yakima, Wash. (10)
6. San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, Calif. (9)
7. Stockton, Calif. (7)
8. Anderson, S.C. (33)
9. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (5)
10. Visalia-Porterville, Calif. (8)
Because of the per capita basis of the rankings, the NICB acknowledged that “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.”
The FBI’s preliminary 2011 crime statistics released last week also indicate a 3.3 percent decline in vehicle thefts from the 2010 number of 737,142. Contributing to this decline was the significant drop in the rankings of the Laredo, Texas, MSA—from No. 1 in 2009 to 53 in 2011. Within two years, Laredo’s thefts were down 53 percent, from 1,792 in 2009 to 849 in 2011.
MSAs were designated by the Office of Management and Budget. Final 2011 theft numbers from the NICB will be published in the fall.
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