The top four areas for vehicle theft reside in California, according to The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) annual “Hot Spots” vehicle theft report. Out of the 10 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) with the most per capita thefts, eight are in California. The remaining two are in Washington.

NICB data is in line with preliminary FBI vehicle theft data for 2012, which indicates a 1.3 percent increase in 2012 thefts from the previous year. This would be the end of an eight-year downward trend in vehicle theft. The FBI will publish final numbers in the fall.

The West region — defined by the FBI as the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming — saw a 10.6 percent increase in vehicle thefts from 2011, and was the only region to experience an increase.

The other U.S. regions report declines of 3.1 percent in the Midwest, 7.9 percent in the Northeast, and 2.9 percent in the South.

For 2012, the 10 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with the highest vehicle theft rates were (with 2011 rankings in parenthesis):

1. Modesto, Calif. (2)

2. Fresno, Calif. (1)

3. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif. (3)

4. Stockton, Calif. (7)

5. Yakima, Wash. (5)

6. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (6)

7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (20)

8. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (9)

9. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. (4)

10. Redding, Calif. (40)

11. Merced, Calif. (27)

12. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (14)

13. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif. (13)

14. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich. (11)

15. Oklahoma City, Okla. (17)

16. Visalia-Porterville, Calif. (10)

17. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. (12)

18. San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (16)

19. Madera, Calif. (28)

20. Albuquerque, N.M. (15)

NICB’s “Hot Spots” report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation’s MSAs. MSAs are designated by the Office of Management and Budget and often include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named.

As a population-based survey, the NICB states 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.


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