This really shouldn’t surprise anyone: according to analysis by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), California was home to eight of the top 10 hot spots for vehicle theft in 2015.
On top of that, the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) for the city of Modesto, CA, had the nation’s highest per capita vehicle theft rate last year as well.
FYI, NICB noted that MSAs are designated by the federal government’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, the Modesto MSA includes all thefts within the entire county of Stanislaus, not just the city of Modesto.
Moreover, 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, NICB said.
For 2015, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates (not pure theft numbers) were:
- Modesto, CA (4,072, up from its 5th place ranking with 3,047 in 2014)
- Albuquerque, N.M. (6,657, up from 12th with 4,754 last year)
- Bakersfield, CA (6,000, up from 2nd in 2014 with 5,211)
- Salinas, CA (2,934, up from 11th with 2,270 last year)
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA (30,554, down from 1st with 29,093 in 2014)
- Stockton-Lodi, Calif. (4,656, down from 3rd with 4,245 last year)
- Pueblo, CO (983, up from 24th with 654 in 2014)
- Merced, CA (1,605, up from 21st with 1,132 last year)
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA (25,001, up from 14th with 21,264 in 2014)
- Vallejo-Fairfield, CA (2,352, down from 7th with 2,414 last year)
When the FBI released preliminary January-June 2015 crime data earlier this year, NICB noted that vehicle theft was up 1% across the nation; an increase the group said is reflected in its “Hot Spots” report, meaning this trend may hold when the final FBI 2015 crime data is published in the fall.
Notwithstanding these occasional increases, NICB stressed that vehicle thefts are down dramatically around the nation over the last several years.
Still, the reasons vehicles are stolen remain the same: Older vehicles are stolen primarily for their parts value while newer high-end models are often shipped overseas or, after some disguising, sold to an innocent buyer locally.
It should be noted here, too, that pickup trucks are often hot commodities in vehicle theft rings – something fleets operating pickups should keep in mind.