If you live California or Texas, as many of our Car Pro Show listeners do, you live in the top two states in the country when it comes to vehicle thefts, according to the latest National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) Hot Spots report. The worst metro area for thefts in the country? The Bakersfield, Calif, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which had the highest theft rate in the country for the second year in a row.
NICB Hot Wheels Report
Overall, the NICB's Hot Wheels report shows a dramatic jump in auto thefts from 2019 to 2020:
- 880,595 vehicle thefts nationwide in 2020, with about one stolen vehicle every 36 seconds.
- 794,019 vehicle thefts in 2019.
"Auto thefts saw a dramatic increase in 2020 versus 2019 in part due to the pandemic, an economic downturn, law enforcement realignment, depleted social and schooling programs, and, in still too many cases, owner complacency,” said David Glawe, president and CEO of the NICB. “For many people, a car is the second largest investment they will ever make behind a home. As such, it is important to take simple steps to protect your investment–lock your car and take your keys, no matter where you live.”
Auto Thefts By State and Theft Rate
Looking at it by state, California, Texas and Florida were the top three states with the highest number of vehicles stolen, with these states alone accounting for 37% of all thefts nationally.
- California - 187,094 thefts
- Texas - 93,521thefts
- Florida- 44,940 thefts
The NICB also breaks down the hottest states by theft rate per 100,000 residents. Colorado is notably number two on that list - with thefts jumping 37 percent from 2019 to 2020. In Colorado 21,299 vehicles were stolen in 2019, but that number went up to 29,162 in 2020.
NICB researchers say the Denver Metropolitan Statistical Area drove Colorado's theft increase. Thefts in the Denver area increased by more than 7,000, rising from 14,093 in 2019 to 21,112 in 2020.
Despite the national jump in car thefts overall, 10 states went against the national trend and actually saw a decline in total theft numbers.
NICB says the Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas. These are designated by the Office of Management and Budget and often include municipalities other than the cities for which metropolitan statistical areas are named. For example, Bakersfield, Calif., includes the entire county of Kern, not just the city of Bakersfield.
As a population-based survey, an area with a much smaller population can have a higher theft rate than an area with a greater number of thefts. Creating a theft rate, or number of thefts per 100,000 people, enables analysts to compare large regions, such as Los Angeles, with small regions, such as Hot Springs, Ark.
Tips To Protect Against Theft
To help keep thieves from getting behind the wheel of your vehicle, the NICB recommends these four "layers of protection":
- Common sense. Vehicle owners should always remove keys from the ignition, lock doors and windows, and park in well-lit areas.
- Warning devices. These include visible and audible alarms. Aftermarket alarms are available for all makes and models of cars. Visual devices include column collars, steering wheel locks, and brake locks.
- Immobilizing devices. The third layer of protection prevents thieves from bypassing the ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some examples are smart keys; fuse cut-offs; kill switches; starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers; and wireless ignition authentication.
- Tracking devices. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems 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.
Dodge recently announced some new innovative anti-theft measures for Charger and Challenger owners which you can read about here.
Photo Credit: NICB