Top 10 U.S. Cities for Car Thefts

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 02, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Car thefts are down for the eighth straight year nationwide, new FBI figures show. But that's not true for all cities, with one state in particular seeing more than its fair share of vehicle thefts.

Car-crazy California has the dubious distinction of having seven of the nation's Top 10 metropolitan areas with the highest rates of vehicle theft, according to a new report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Some cities that made the NICB's annual list of Top 10 "Hot Spots" for car theft may surprise you. They are:

  1. Fresno, Calif., which saw the highest car-theft rate in the nation at 808 stolen cars per 100,000 people in 2011. Fresno was also No. 1 in 2010.
  2. Modesto, Calif., with 639 car thefts per 100,000 people.
  3. Bakersfield, Calif., with 615.
  4. Spokane, Wash., with 551.
  5. Yakima, Wash., with 529.
  6. San Francisco/Oakland, Calif., with 528.
  7. Stockton, Calif., with 507.
  8. Anderson, S.C., with 483.
  9. Vallejo/Fairfield, Calif., with 480.
  10. Visalia/Porterville, Calif., adjacent to No. 1 Fresno, with 472 stolen cars per 100,000 people.

Nationwide, however, car thefts were down by 3.3%, according to the FBI's preliminary 2011 crime stats.

The NICB's Top 10 report also singled out Laredo, Texas, as a success story. The border town was No. 1 in car thefts in 2009, but fell to No. 53 on 2011's list. Here's an NICB video report on what Laredo is doing right:

As for vehicle owners, the NICB offered some general tips to help prevent car theft:

  • Use common sense by parking in a well-lit area and locking your vehicle.
  • Install an audible warning system to help deter would-be thieves.
  • Use an immobilizing device like a smart key or a kill switch.
  • Get a GPS tracking device to help police recover your car if it's stolen.

Finally, if you're a victim of car theft, check out these tips. Remember, fast action and quick thinking are key.

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