Are California's Auto Theft 'Hot Spots' Cooling Down?

Annual Report Shows Theft is Down in Most Regions. The Exception: The Silicon Valley

California Drivers Pay Less for Car Insurance!

Californians love their cars - and so do thieves. But while the Golden State remains the nation's car theft capital, fewer cars are being stolen in nearly every region of the state, according to the annual "Hot Spots" report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

California auto theft rates dropped 5.4 percent from 2005 to 2006 - a reduction of 14,583 stolen cars, according to the report. And while only seven California regions saw auto theft rates drop in 2005, 23 of 26 California regions reported fewer car thefts last year.

Among the most dramatic improvements was Modesto, which dropped from the nation's car theft capital in 2005 to number five overall due to 1,988 fewer car thefts last year - a 28 percent reduction. Other key regions included:

  • Los Angeles: 6,800 fewer thefts for a 7.9 percent decrease;
  • San Diego: 2,099 fewer thefts for a 7.3 percent decline;
  • Riverside/San Bernardino: 2,206 fewer thefts for a 6.5 percent reduction;
  • Sacramento: 699 fewer thefts for a 3.4 percent decrease; and
  • San Francisco: 604 fewer thefts for a 1.5 percent decline.

The theft reduction is part of a nationwide trend showing car theft down nationally over the past three years.

The exceptions were San Jose, Hanford and Napa, where auto theft totals increased. The increase of 2,058 car thefts in the San Jose area caused a 22.6 percent increase in per capita auto theft for the region.

Despite the improvements, California remains the Golden State for car thieves - five of the top 10 car theft centers are in California.

The NICB bases its report on data supplied by the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation's 361 Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The rate is determined by the number of vehicle thefts per 100,000 residents using 2005 U.S. Census population estimates, the most current figures available.

There are ways to deter thieves, according to the Insurance Information Network of California. A "layered approach" to security can protect your car from becoming a part of the next theft report.

First, use common sense. Always park in a well-lit area, lock your car and take your keys. Use of visible or audible deterrents such as car alarms, steering wheels locks and wheel locks can also encourage thieves to look elsewhere. An immobilizing device, such as smart keys, kill switches and fuse cut-offs provide another layer of protection. If thieves bypass these security measures, a tracking device can emit a signal to police to help recover a stolen car quickly.
"One of the best ways to avoid becoming a car theft statistic is to use common sense," said IINC Executive Director Candysse Miller. "You may only be in that coffee shop for a minute, but that's all the time it takes for a thief to steal you car. Lock it. Take your keys and turn on your security system. The extra effort may be enough to send a thief elsewhere."
The NICB is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud, and is an associate of the Insurance Information Network of California. IINC is a non-profit, non-lobbying insurance communications association dedicated to helping consumers make informed insurance and safety choices. For more information, including a chart outlining all California results, please visit the IINC Web site at

Source: Insurance Information Network of California -

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