The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

California’s Bay Area Tops Vehicle Theft List

July 13, 2015

<p><em>Photo of San Francisco by Vincent Bloch via Wikimedia Commons.</em></p>

VIDEO: Preventing Vehicle Theft

California’s San Francisco, Oakland and Hayward metropolitan area had the nation’s highest per-capita vehicle theft rate in 2014, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) latest Hot Spots report.

NICB’s Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). MSAs, designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), often include areas much larger than the cities for which they’re named. For example, the Bakersfield, Calif., MSA includes all thefts within the entire county of Kern, not just the city of Bakersfield. 

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. 

For 2014, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were:

2014 Ranking                      2013 Ranking

1

San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, Calif. (29,093)

4

(29,326)

2

Bakersfield, Calif. (5,211)

1

(6,267)

3

Stockton/Lodi, Calif. (4,245)

5

(4,245)

4

Odessa, Texas (886)

12

(764)

5

Modesto, Calif. (3,047)

3

(3,565)

6

Spokane/Spokane Valley, Wash. (3,032)

7

(3,205)

7

Vallejo/Fairfield, Calif. (2,414)

8

(2,540)

8

Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue, Wash. (20,268)

13

(18,128)

9

Fresno, Calif. (5,260)

2

(6,750)

10

San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, Calif. (10,531)

9

(10,925)

Source: NICB

Although vehicle thefts are down dramatically across the nation, the reasons why vehicles are stolen remain the same, NICB said. Older vehicles are stolen primarily for their parts value while newer, high-end vehicles often are shipped overseas or, after some disguising, sold to an innocent buyer locally.

Others, meanwhile, are still taken for the oldest of motivations – a “joyride.” And when the thrill is gone, the car is abandoned.

The full Hot Spots report is available at www.nicb.org.

NICB recommends that vehicle owners and drivers follow four “layers of protection” to guard against vehicle theft:

Common Sense:

  • Remove your keys from the ignition.
  • Lock your doors and close your windows.
  • Park in a well-lit area.

 Warning Device:

  • Audible alarms
  • Steering column collars
  • Steering wheel/brake pedal lock
  • Brake locks
  • Wheel locks
  • Theft deterrent decals
  • Identification markers in or on vehicle
  • VIN etching
  • Micro dot marking

Immobilizing Device:

  • Smart keys
  • Fuse cut-offs
  • Kill switches
  • Starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers
  • Wireless ignition authentication

Tracking Device: The final layer of protection is a tracking device that emits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen.

To watch a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration video about vehicle theft prevention, you can click on the photo or link below the headline. You may want to pass this along to fleet drivers as a friendly reminder.

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