What City Has the Highest Rate of Stolen Cars?

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According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) Bakersfield, CA had the highest rate of stolen cars in 2019, which is the most recent year with data available.
During that year, there were 6,538 vehicles stolen in Bakersfield—that’s a rate of 726 stolen cars per 100,000 people.
Although motor vehicle theft has been in a downward trend since 1991, there was still $6.4 billion lost to car theft in 2019 according to the III. So overall, the rate of stolen cars was still pretty high that year, with vehicles stolen at a rate of 219.9 per 100,000 people.
Let’s take a closer look at the statistics as well as effective ways to prevent vehicle theft.
A thief looking in the window of a car
Car thefts are often crimes of opportunity | Twenty20

Top cities for stolen cars

Albuquerque, NM was number two on the list of cities with the highest rate of stolen cars for 2019. The city saw a reported 6,399 vehicles stolen at a rate of 697.05 per 100,000 people based on the 2019 U.S. census population estimates. According to the III, other cities that made the top five include:
  • St. Joseph, MO-KO: 770 stolen cars (614.90 per 100,000)
  • Modesto, CA: 3,156 stolen cars (573.13 per 100,000)
  • Odessa, TX: 946 stolen cars (569.11 per 100,000)
It’s not too surprising that a city in California made the top of the stolen car list, because the state overall had the most vehicle thefts that year. There were 141,757 cars stolen in California in 2019, followed by Texas at 77,489, and then Florida at 39,048.

Manual and standard anti-theft devices

Today, many vehicles are already equipped with anti-theft devices, like pre-installed car alarms and advanced security systems.
Remote locks are also standard in most cars, allowing you to lock and unlock your car from your phone. There are also transponder keys that won’t allow you to drive your car unless you have your key on you.
Many cars now also come with tracking systems, and while they won’t prevent theft, they can make it easier to get your car back in the event it is stolen.
You can also install anti-theft devices on your car manually. Steering wheel locks and brake locks, for instance, will make it impossible to drive your car. There are also car wheel clamps that prevent your tire from rotating, and yet another option is a kill switch, which will disable your car’s electrical system during an attempted theft.

The easiest way to prevent getting your car stolen seems obvious

One easy way to help eliminate the chances of your car getting stolen is to make sure you don’t leave your keys in your car.
It may seem like common sense, but the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) found that between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2018, there were 229,339 vehicle thefts with keys or fobs left in vehicles.
This is a 56% increase in vehicle thefts with keys or fobs left in the vehicle, up from 147,434 cars stolen this way between 2013 and 2015, according to the NICB.
Interestingly, California once again made the top of the list. The state had the most thefts with keys or fobs left in a vehicle during the 2016 to 2018 period, at 31,185.

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