Trucks at Work

West coast “golden” for vehicle thefts

It may come as a surprise to some, but certainly not to me: the West Coast is home to the highest rates of vehicle theft in the U.S. That’s according to statistics compiled and analyzed by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

However, there’s a silver lining of sorts as well: the NCIB also discerned that 2011 is on track (with final numbers to be published in the fall) as yet another consecutive year of declining vehicle thefts. Four of the top 10 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the U.S. reported more vehicle thefts in 2011 (an increase of 925 collectively) while the remaining six posted fewer (a decrease of 2,017 collectively).

Data gathered by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirms this trend, as its preliminary 2011 crime statistics released last week indicate a 3.3% drop in vehicle thefts this year from the 737,142 reported in 2010.

Contributing to this decline is the significant drop in vehicle thefts occurring in Laredo, Texas. In 2009, this U.S. border city ranked number one in the U.S. for such crime; by last year, however, Laredo had fallen to number 53 on the list. To frame that with more concrete data, within two years, Laredo's thefts were down 53%, from 1,792 in 2009 to 849 in 2011.

The NCIB stresses, however, an important caveat in all of this: that its report is a reflection of vehicle thefts on a per capita basis. Thus 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.         

With that in mind, here are the top 10 locations in the U.S. with the highest rates of for 2011:



2011 Ranking

2010 Ranking


Fresno, Calif.



Modesto, Calif.



Bakersfield-Delano, Calif.



Spokane, Wash.



Yakima, Wash.



San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, Calif.



Stockton, Calif.



Anderson, S.C.



Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.



Visalia-Porterville, Calif.



Note, too, that MSAs often include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, the Fresno MSA includes all thefts within the entire county of Fresno, not just the city of Fresno.

Even so, the NCIB reiterated that using layers of protection will remain a critical strategy in those MSAs with the highest rates of vehicle theft in the U.S. Those are tips worth keeping in mind. 

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