If you want to steer clear of the city with the most car thefts, stay away from Albuquerque, New Mexico. It had the highest per capita auto theft rate in 2016 according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s latest Hot Spots report.
2016 NICB Hot Spots Ranking
- Albuquerque, N.M. (10,011)
- Pueblo, Colo. (1,325)
- Bakersfield, Calif. (7,176)
- Modesto, Calif. (3,820)
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (25,708)
- Anchorage, Alaska (2,273)
- Merced, Calif. (1,605)
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (29,414)
- Fresno, Calif. (5,682)
- Billings, Mont. (877)
Note that Albuquerque’s #1 ranking includes all 2016 thefts within the entire county of Bernalillo, not just the city proper.
If you’re wondering how Anchorage, Alaska and Billings, Montana made the list, NICB researchers say as 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. So that’s how Billings, with 877 thefts, places 10th while Los Angeles, with 60,670 thefts places 35th.
Overall, vehicle theft is down across the nation. According to the NICB, the historic peak year for vehicle theft was 1991, with 1,661,738 reported thefts. In 2015, the total was 707,758. That is a 57.4 percent reduction since 1991. (Thefts are expected to be up slightly in 2016 over 2015 numbers according to preliminary crime data.)
Despite all the progress in anti-theft devices, last fall the NICB pointed out that from 2013 through 2015, a total of 147,434 vehicles were reported stolen with the keys left in them—57,096 in 2015 alone. It goes without saying anti-theft technology does no good if you leave the keys in the car. So with that said here are some reminders of how to make sure your car doesn’t disappear one day.
1. Use Common Sense:
- Remove your keys from the ignition
- Lock your doors /close your windows
- Park in a well-lit area
2. Use a Warning Device:
- Audible alarms
- Steering column collars
- Steering wheel/brake pedal lock
- Brake locks
- Wheel locks
- Theft deterrent decals
- Identification markers in or on vehicle
- VIN etching
- Microdot marking
3. Use an Immobilizing Device (so thieves can’t bypass your ignition and hot-wire your car):
- Smart keys
- Fuse cut-offs
- Kill switches
- Starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers
- Wireless ignition authentication
4. Use a Tracking Device:
If after all this, your car does get stolen, hopefully, you’ve equipped it with a tracking device to help police find it. Some systems employ “telematics” which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.