Vehicle thefts continued to decline for the eighth consecutive year, with preliminary FBI estimates of 2011 vehicle thefts showing a 3.3-percent drop from the year before.
But if you live on the West Coast, the news from the latest report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) isn’t all that good. California accounted for seven of the top ten “hot spots” for vehicle thefts.
Diving into the details of the 2011 Top 10 Hot Spots, identified as metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) that are often larger than their city names indicate, the first four are unchanged from their 2010 ranking (which appears in parentheses):
1. Fresno, Calif. (1) – A total of 7,621 vehicle thefts were reported in Fresno in 2011, compared with 7,559 in 2010. Incidentally, Fresno was in fifth place in 2009 and in 10th place in 2008.
2. Modesto, Calif. (2) – Vehicle thefts of 3,315 in Modesto last year are down a bit from the 3,878 reported in 2010 and the 3,712 in 2009. Still, it’s a huge improvement from 2008, when Modesto was the number one hot spot in the country for vehicle thefts.
3. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif. (3) – Similarly, third-place Bakersfield-Delano has remained in the same spot for three consecutive years. In 2011, 5,240 vehicle thefts were reported, compared with 5,623 in 2010 and 5,530 in 2009. But the area was in fifth place in 2008.
4. Spokane, Wash. (4) – Remaining in fourth place, Spokane reported 2,614 vehicle thefts in 2011, compared with 2,763 in 2010 and 2,218 in 2009, when it was in 18th place. In 2008, Spokane was 35th on the list.
5. Yakima, Wash. (10) – Moving up five spots, the Yakima MSA reported 1,308 vehicle thefts in 2011, compared with 1,266 in 2010. In 2009, when there were 1,525 vehicle thefts, the area was in sixth place. But this is a huge improvement from 2008, when Yakima was in third place for vehicle thefts.
6. San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, Calif. (9) – Vehicle thefts are up, with 23,223 reported in 2011, enough to move the San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont MSA up three places. A total of 22,617 vehicle thefts were reported in 2010, and 26,374 in 2009.
7. Stockton, Calif. (7) – Same spot, but there are fewer vehicle thefts for Stockton for 2011 versus 2010 (3,532 compared with 3,779). This is still a big improvement over 2009 when the area was in fourth place with 4,479 vehicle thefts.
8. Anderson, S.C. (33) – A newcomer to the top hot spots, Anderson, S.C., with 911 vehicle thefts reported in 2011, shot up from 33rd place in 2010 when it had 696 vehicle thefts. In 2009, Anderson was in 32nd place with 671 vehicle thefts.
9. Vellejo-Fairfield, Calif. (5) – Improving four places in the last year, Vallejo-Fairfield reported 2,002 vehicle thefts in 2011, compared with 2,392 in 2010. But it’s still not as good as 2009’s 16th spot with 2008 vehicle thefts.
10. Visalia-Porterville, Calif. (8) – With 2,124 vehicle thefts reported in 2011, Visalia-Porterville backed off two spots from 2010’s number eight position and 2,409 vehicle thefts. Visalia-Porterville was also in eighth place in 2009.
Interestingly, contributing to the 3.3 percent decline in vehicle thefts was the “significant drop” in the ranking of Laredo, Texas from number one in 2009 to number 53 in 2011. In two years, Laredo, located on the Mexican border, created an auto theft unit, increased surveillance at border crossings, and increased community awareness to reduce overall vehicle thefts.
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The full Hot Spots report is available www.nicb.org.