The greater Albuquerque, N.M. metropolitan area had the highest per-capital auto theft rate in 2016, according to a new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
In 2015, Albuquerque ranked second, behind Modesto, Calif., in auto theft rate. Last year, six of the top 10 metropolitan statistical areas in vehicle theft rate were in California.
Hot Spots, a report that NICB releases annually, examines vehicle theft data collected by the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas. These statistical areas, designated by the Office of Management and Budget, often include population centers much larger than the cities for which they’re named. For example, the Albuquerque metropolitan statistical area includes the entire county of Bernalillo, not just the area within Albuquerque city limits.
New to the top 10 this year is Anchorage, Alaska (No. 6) and Billings, Mont. (No. 10). 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, NICB explained. This is how Billings, with 877 auto thefts, placed 10th while Los Angeles, with 60,670 thefts, placed 35th.
For 2016, the 10 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest vehicle theft rates were:
- Albuquerque, N.M. (10,011 thefts in 2016, up from 6,657 in 2015)
- Pueblo, Colo. (1,325 thefts in 2016, up from 983 in 2015)
- Bakersfield, Calif. (7,176 thefts in 2016, up from 6,000 in 2015)
- Modesto, Calif. (3,820 thefts in 2016, down from 4,072 in 2015)
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (25,708 in 2016, up from 25,001 in 2015)
- Anchorage, Alaska (2,273 in 2016, up from 1,359 in 2015)
- Merced, Calif. (1,605 in 2016, up from 1,132 in 2015)
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (29,414 in 2016, down from 30,554 in 2015)
- Fresno, Calif. (5,682 in 2016, up from 5,149 in 2015)
- Billings, Mont. (877 in 2016, up from 775 in 2015)
To learn how your area ranks, click here.
Each year, the FBI releases preliminary Uniform Crime Report data for the previous year’s January-June time frame. When the preliminary 2016 crime data was released earlier this year, vehicle theft was up 6.6% across the nation. This increase is reflected in the Hot Spots report and is expected to hold when the final data is published in the fall, NICB said.
For comparison, below is a table showing the preliminary Uniform Crime Report vehicle theft data, the percent change from the previous year, and the final Uniform Crime Report vehicle theft figure:
The historic peak year for vehicle theft was 1991, when there were more than 1.6 million reported thefts. In 2015, the total was 707,758 — a 57.4% reduction since 1991.
"While the final result for 2016 is expected to be higher than 2015's number, the vehicle theft environment across the country is vastly improved from the 1990s," NICB said in the organization's released statement about the Hot Spots report.
To watch a video about the report, click on the photo or link below the headline.