Forbes study: 10 worst cities for car thefts

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stolen car

Nine of the top ten cites to have your car stolen in are all on the west coast. Image: tompagenet/Flickr/CC BY-SA

According to AOL Autos, a car is stolen every 33 seconds in the U.S. And nine out of ten of the worst cites for car thieves, according to a recent Forbes report, are on the west coast.

Calif. and Wash. fared worst

The Forbes study compared the number of car thefts per populations of 100,000. Not only were nine of them on the west coast, California, which routinely tops these lists, had seven.

The second state to avoid, if you want to keep your vehicle, is Washington. But only if you travel east of the cascades, where, ironically, the population is far less dense.

The only eastern city on the list was Anderson, S.C., nicknamed the “Friendliest City in South Carolina.” Perhaps the thieves there are full of southern hospitality.

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The top ten car theft

Here is the complete rundown of cities, followed by the the number of cars stolen per 100,000 people.

1. Fresno, CA — 808.25
2. Modesto, CA — 639.32
3. Bakersfield, CA — 615.23
4. Spokane, WA — 551.75
5. Yakima, WA — 529.25
6. San Francisco, CA — 528.87
7. Stockton, CA — 507.32
8. Anderson, SC — 483.32
9. Vallejo, CA — 480.71
10. Visalia, CA — 472.78

California remains ‘champ’

Frank Scafidi, the director of public affairs at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said the reason for that is that the state has the highest population, and therefore, the largest number of cars:

“California has dominated the list for years… With that combination you get more vehicle theft activity.”

California’s proximity to the Mexican border also accounts for some of the state’s higher numbers. According to Forbes, many of the cars stolen in the most populace state are found south of the border.


Forbes compiled the report by crunching numbers provided by NCIB, a Midwest non-profit group that combats insurance fraud and auto thefts. NCIB also provided the formula used to determine the rates per 100,000 people.

Most stolen vehicles

And it is not the drivers of expensive sports and luxury cars who need to worry the most. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 72 percent of all stolen cars are every-day passenger vehicles like the Dodge Magnum, Pontiac Grand Prix, Dodge Charger, Mitsubishi Galant and Chrysler 300.

Auto thefts down

However, as poor as the news sounds, the report also says that auto theft rates are declining, thanks partially to today’s high-tech cars. Innovations like GPS systems, electronic key fobs and sensitive alarms are making them much harder to pilfer than in the the day.


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