There were more than 22,000 vehicles stolen in South Carolina in 2004 according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which reports that theft rates rose for the sixth year in a row.
NICB reports the Florence, S.C. metropolitan statistical area ranked 86th in the nation. With 566 stolen vehicles in 2004, the Florence area had a rate of 450 stolen vehicles per 100,000 in population, which was up from 421 the previous year.
Myrtle Beach continues to lead the state in vehicles stolen per 100,000 in population, ranking 20th in the nation in car thefts.
“Other than that it’s a very transient population, it’s kind of hard to tell why Myrtle Beach ranks so high,” Allison Dean Love, of the South Carolina Insurance News Service said. “It’s also very close to the North Carolina border, which makes it easier for thieves.”
Love said the heavy traffic on Grand Strand roads also helps thieves.
“It’s very easy for a car thief to get lost in traffic and get across the state border,” she said. “Once a thief steals a car and gets it over the state line, it’s a lot less likely to be recovered quickly.”
More than 1,500 cars were reported stolen in the Myrtle Beach area in 2004, up from 1,477 in 2003. The area had an average rate of 769 vehicle thefts per 100,000 in population.
The Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson area had the largest number of vehicles stolen in the state, with 4,057 thefts in 2004. But because of its higher population density, the area’s theft rate was only 421 per 100,000 population.
More often than not, when a car is stolen it has been left unlocked, which is why the NICB says common sense rules apply when it comes to keeping your car in your possession.
Nationwide, car thefts were down slightly in 2004, according to the NICB study. But vehicle theft cost car owners and insurance companies nearly $9 billion last year. Preliminary FBI data shows a 2.6 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts from 2003. This decrease comes after four years of steadily rising auto theft figures.
“The small reduction in auto thefts is good news for our member companies and the general public,” Robert M. Bryant, NICB president said. “NICB has attacked this problem through expanded efforts with our member companies and law enforcement and by embarking on an aggressive public awareness campaign to educate and inform consumers of the many ways in which they can help prevent auto theft.”
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