If you own a car and live in California, you’d better keep a close eye on your set of wheels.
The Golden State has eight of the top 10 car theft hot spots in the latest report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The only two metro areas not in California to make the 2015 list are Albuquerque, New Mexico and Pueblo, Colorado.
Modesto, California takes the top spot after placing fifth place in 2014. (It includes all thefts within the entire county of Stanislaus, not just the city of Modesto.) Albuquerque moves into second place after ranking 12th in 2014. Bakersfield, California moves down one spot to round out the top three. You can download the complete list here.
The good news is car thefts have been on the decline nationwide over the past few years. Older vehicles are stolen primarily for their parts value while newer, high-end vehicles are often shipped overseas or, after some disguising, sold to unwitting buyers.
Here’s a look at the top 10 followed by how other major metro areas rank.
#1 Modesto, CA
#2 Albuquerque, NM
#3 Bakersfield, CA
#4 Salinas, CA
#5 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
#6 Stockton-Lodi, CA
#7 Pueblo, CO
#8 Merced, CA
#9 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
#10 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
#20 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
#24 Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA
#26 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
#38 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
#39 Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN
#45 San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
#54 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
#56 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell
#57 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
#58 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
#79 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
#80 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
#86 Cleveland-Elyria, OH
#129 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
#146 Austin-Round Rock, TX
#170 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
#197 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
#262 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
#264 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
TIPS TO AVOID CAR THEFT
To keep your car from being stolen, don’t leave it running and unattended, lock your doors and park in well-lit areas.
Car alarms are also common, but there is some debate over how effective they are given the number of false alarms.
It’s a good idea to use an anti-theft device thieves can see, like steering-wheel collars and brake pedal locks.
Etch the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the glass and other parts of the car to discourage chop shops.
Immobilizing devices are another option. They prevent 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
- Starter, ignition and fuel pump disablers
- Wireless ignition authentication
If you are really worried about your car being stolen, equip it with a GPS tracking device which will help police find it.