Auto Theft Declines for Second Straight Year; West Leads Nation in Car Theft

May 9, 2006

Des Plaines, Ill.-based National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported that for calendar year 2005, the West, and particularly California, leads the nation in auto theft. All of the nation’s top ten areas with the highest vehicle theft rates are in the West with six of them in California.

For 2005 the 10 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest vehicle theft rates are:

1. Modesto, Calif.

2. Las Vegas/Paradise, Nev.

3. Stockton, Calif.

4. Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, Ariz.

5. Visalia/Porterville, Calif.

6. Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue, Wash.

7. Sacramento/Arden-Arcade/Roseville, Calif.

8. San Diego/Carlsbad/San Marcos, Calif.

9. Fresno, Calif.

10. Yakima, Wash.

According to Hot Spots, its annual report on auto theft rates, NICB reviewed data supplied by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation’s 360 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). MSAs are designated by the Office of Management and Budget and may include areas surrounding a specific city. For example, the number one Hot Spot in the current report is Modesto, Calif. The Modesto MSA, however, includes data not only from the city of Modesto, but the entire county of Stanislaus in which Modesto is located.

The rate is determined by the number of vehicle theft offenses per 100,000 inhabitants using the 2004 U.S. Census Population Estimates, the most current figures available.

Preliminary FBI data shows a 2.1 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts during January to June 2005 when compared with the same period in 2004. Nationally, this is the second straight year of decreases in vehicle theft and that is good news.

“The continued reduction in auto thefts is good news for our member companies and the general public,” said NICB President and Chief Executive Officer Robert M. Bryant. Bryant says that NICB programs, such as the bait car program, have led to significant declines in the auto theft problem.

“Bait cars are just one of the many tools that the insurance industry provides — through NICB — to local law enforcement to help prevent and deter vehicle theft,” Bryant said.

NICB recommends the following actions under its “layered approach” to protection that automobile owners can take to minimize their risk and prevent their car from becoming the next statistic:

Common Sense — An unlocked vehicle with a key in the ignition is an open invitation to any thief, regardless of which anti-theft device you use. The common sense approach to protection is the simplest and most cost-effective way to thwart would-be thieves. Secure your vehicle even if parking for brief periods.

Warning Device — The second layer of protection is a visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected. Popular second layer devices include: Audible alarms, steering column collars, steering wheel/brake pedal lock, wheel locks, theft deterrent decals, identification markers in or on vehicle, and VIN etching.

Immobilizing Device–The third layer of protection is a device which prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated. Popular third layer devices include: smart keys, kill switches, and starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers.

Tracking Device — The final layer of protection is a tracking device which emits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau

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