California has been found to be a Golden State with golden opportunities for car thieves, claiming eight of the top 10 cities for stolen cars in the United States, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual vehicle theft report released this week.
The top four areas – Modesto, followed by Fresno, Bakersfield-Delano and Stockton – are in the state’s sprawling Central Valley. The only non-California areas to crack the Top 10 were Yakima, Wash., and Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash.
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In all, the western United States saw a 10.6 percent increase in vehicle thefts from the previous year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported
. The other regions of the country – the Midwest, Northeast and South – reported reductions of 3.1, 7.9 and 2.9 percent, respectively.
The NICB’s Hot Spots report is a per capita review of 2012 vehicle thefts from the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas. Its data, which shows auto thefts up about 1.3 percent from the more than 715,000 thefts the previous year, is in line with preliminary FBI vehicle theft figures for 2012. The increase, though small, ends an eight-year downward trend in vehicle theft.
“California rates are going up because there’s no resources and no law enforcement,” John Abounader, executive director at the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, told the Insurance Journal.
“Criminals know where the resources are and they go where they’re not.”
But California also has far more vehicles than any other state.
Authorities note there is no foolproof way to keep your car from being stolen if someone wants it badly enough. However, many car thefts could be prevented through common-sense approaches, such as rolling up your windows and locking your vehicle.
The FBI defines motor vehicle theft as the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle.
Examples of motor vehicles include sport utility vehicles, automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles.
Here are the National Insurance Crime Bureau's rankings for 2012, with 2011 rankings in parentheses:
10. Redding, Calif. (40)
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9. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. (4)
8. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (9)
7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (20)
6. San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, Calif. (6)
5. Yakima, Wash. (5)
4. Stockton, Calif. (7)
3. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif. (3)
2. Fresno, Calif. (1)
1. Modesto, Calif. (2)
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