After dropping for 8 years in a row, the rate of stolen vehicles in the United States increased by 1.3% in 2012, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) annual Hot Spots vehicle report. The western portion of the U.S. led the way with a 10.6% rise in car thefts. Of the 10 “hot spots” for vehicle theft, 8 of them were located in California, with Modesto having the dubious distinction of coming in first place, followed by Fresno.
Reportedly, California’s auto theft problem stems from a number of setbacks plaguing the state. Additionally, police staffing has been reduced at both state and local levels because of severe budget shortfalls, and California is located close to major ports and the Mexican border, making it easier to dispose of stolen vehicles quickly.
Washington State claimed the 5th (Yakima) and 9th (Spokane) spots in the top 10 areas for vehicle theft. But, despite the overall rise for stolen vehicles across the nation, the Midwest, Northeast and Southern regions all reported reductions of 3.1%, 7.9% and 2.9% respectively. The states that had the lowest number of reported thefts are Michigan and Hawaii.
NICB recommends that drivers follow four “layers of protection” to help guard against vehicle theft:
Use Common Sense
- Remove your keys from the ignition
- Lock your doors and close your windows when the car is not in use
- Park in a well-lit area
Have Warning Devices
- Audible alarms
- Steering column collars
- Steering wheel/brake pedal/wheel locks
- Theft deterrent decals and identification markers in or on vehicle
- VIN etching
Install Immobilizing Devices
- Smart keys
- Fuse cut-offs and kill switches
- Starter, ignition, fuel pump disablers
- Wireless ignition authentication
Have a Tracking Device
One that emits a signal to police or monitoring station when a vehicle is stolen. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.
An interactive map is located on the NICB website giving specific information about
every state, including a breakdown by rank of towns with reported vehicle thefts and the number of stolen vehicles.