Vehicle Thefts Are Down But Bakersfield & Albuquerque Are Still Hot

For the last two years, auto thefts nationally have fallen according to the latest “Hot Spots” report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The NICB report for 2019, the most recent data available, showed national thefts topped out at 794,019, down from 819,988 in 2018 and 833,740 in 2017.

Like the national rate, New Mexico has also witnessed consecutive years of declining thefts, however the state tops the list with a theft rate near 448 vehicles per 100,000 people. Similarly, Bakersfield, California saw a decline from 2018 to 2019, however it moved from number three to the number one Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). California has the dubious distinction of placing 10 in the top 20 nationally.

The changing rankings of states and cities is a circumstance of dynamic studies. Nonetheless, this most recent study indicates most states are moving in a positive direction.

Eleven states did witness increases in theft rates. These states are:

State

2019 Theft Rate

2018 Theft Rate

Missouri

403.95

371.45

Texas

294.02

273.18

Arkansas

271.22

266.87

Nebraska

234.65

227.86

Minnesota

224.13

204.48

North Carolina

203.29

202.66

North Dakota

189.09

178.53

South Dakota

187.53

162.43

Delaware

183.82

165.74

Michigan

181.13

173.16

New Hampshire

52.66

50.5

The Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

As a population-based survey, an area with a much smaller population can have a higher theft rate than an area with a greater number of thefts. Creating a theft rate, or number of thefts per 100,000 people, enables analysts to compare a large Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), such as Los Angeles, with a small Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), such as Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Vehicle manufacturers, law enforcement and legislatures have been responsive to vehicle theft over the years, and the results are evident. Vehicle owners must guard against complacency and remember to heed simple tips to safeguard their vehicles.

NICB recommends drivers follow four layers of protection to guard against vehicle theft.

  1. Common sense. Vehicle owners should always remove keys from the ignition, lock doors and windows, and park in well-lit areas.
  2. Warning devices. These include visible and audible alarms. Aftermarket alarms are available for all makes and models of cars. Visual devices include column collars, steering wheel locks, and brake locks.
  3. Immobilizing devices. The third layer of protection prevents thieves from bypassing the ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some examples are smart keys; fuse cut-offs; kill switches; starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers; and wireless ignition authentication.
  4. Tracking devices. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner, and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.

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