California Repeats as the Nation�s Auto Theft Hot Spot

USA’s, Auto Theft Declines 2.6%

Palos Hills, IL-The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported today that for calendar year 2004, California has once again set the pace for auto theft. Seven of the nation�s top ten areas with the highest vehicle theft rates are in California. The communities of Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona and Seattle-Everett-Bellevue, Washington round out the top ten.

For 2004-with their 2003 ranking in parenthesis-the ten metropolitan statistical areas with the highest vehicle theft rates are:

  1. Modesto, CA (1)

  2. Stockton-Lodi, CA (3)

  3. Las Vegas, NV (4)

  4. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ (2)

  5. Sacramento, CA (5)

  6. Oakland, CA (7)

  7. Visalia-Tulare-Porterville, CA (15)

  8. San Diego, CA (9)

  9. Fresno, CA (6)

  10. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA (11)

According to Hot Spots, its annual report on auto theft rates, NICB reviewed data supplied by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation�s 336 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). MSAs are designated by the Office of Management and Budget and may include areas surrounding a specific city. For example, the number one Hot Spot in the current report is Modesto, CA. The Modesto MSA, however, includes data not only from the city of Modesto, but the entire county of Stanislaus in which Modesto is located.

The rate is determined by the number of vehicle theft offenses per 100,000 inhabitants using Census 2000 population figures.

Two cities-Detroit, MI and Miami, FL-fell from the list and were replaced by Visalia-Tulare-Porterville, CA and Seattle-Everett-Bellevue, WA ranked at 7 and 10 respectively. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ improved moving from second to fourth place while Stockton-Lodi and Oakland, CA each moved up a notch from last year as did Las Vegas, NV.

In 2004 there was a slight drop in auto theft nationally. Preliminary FBI data shows a 2.6% decrease in motor vehicle thefts from 2003�s activity and that is good news for consumers, law enforcement and the insurance industry. This decrease comes after four years of steadily rising auto theft figures.

�The small reduction in auto thefts is good news for our member companies and the general public,� said NICB President and Chief Executive Officer Robert M. Bryant. �NICB has attacked this problem through expanded efforts with our member companies and law enforcement and by embarking on an aggressive public awareness campaign to educate and inform consumers of the many ways in which they can help prevent auto theft,� Bryant said.

NICB recommends the following actions under its �layered approach� to protection that automobile owners can take to minimize their risk and prevent their car from becoming the next statistic:

Common Sense-An unlocked vehicle with a key in the ignition is an open invitation to any thief, regardless of which anti-theft device you use. The common sense approach to protection is the simplest and most cost-effective way to thwart would-be thieves. Secure your vehicle even if parking for brief periods. You should always:

  • Remove your keys from the ignition

  • Lock your doors/close your windows

  • Park in a well-lit area

Warning Device�The second layer of protection is a visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected. Popular second layer devices include:

  • Audible alarms

  • Steering column collars

  • Steering wheel/brake pedal lock

  • Wheel locks

  • Theft deterrent decals

  • Identification markers in or on vehicle

  • VIN etching

Immobilizing Device-The third layer of protection is a device which prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated. Popular third layer devices include:

  • Smart keys

  • Kill switches

  • Starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers

Tracking Device-The final layer of protection is a tracking device which emits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau is the nation’s premier non-profit organization exclusively dedicated to fighting insurance fraud and vehicle theft for the benefit of its customers and the public through information analysis, forecasting, criminal investigation support, training, and public awareness.

Anyone with information concerning auto theft and insurance fraud can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422) or by visiting our Web site.

For the complete information on Hot Spots 2005, please visit