By on June 21, 2012

Want to get rid of your car? Move to Fresno, CA. According to data compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), Fresno had 808 car thefts per 100,000 population in 2011 .

Rank MSA Name Rate
1 Fresno, CA MSA 808
2 Modesto, CA MSA 639
3 Bakersfield-Delano, CA MSA 615
4 Spokane, WA MSA 552
5 Yakima, WA MSA 529
6 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA MSA 529
7 Stockton, CA MSA 507
8 Anderson, SC MSA 483
9 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA MSA 481
10 Visalia-Porterville, CA MSA 473
11 Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI MSA 458
12 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA MSA 446
13 Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA MSA 444
14 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA 431
15 Albuquerque, NM MSA 430
16 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA MSA 419
17 Oklahoma City, OK MSA 410
18 El Centro, CA MSA 409
19 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV MSA 403
20 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA 400

Laredo, Texas, had the most vehicle thefts in 2009. It dropped to number 53 in 2011. Increased police work drove down Laredo’s car theft rate, says Pro 8 News.

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41 Comments on “America’s 20 Best Cities To Have Your Car Stolen...”


  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Twelve of the twenty are in CA, but LA did not make the top 20. Wonder what effect this has on insurance in CA?

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      And 18 of the 20 are west of the Mississippi? What’s up with that?

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Off the top of my head, most of those places are near Pacific ports. Easy access to ship the cars and/or parts to China or other similar destinations might be the explanation. Probably harder to get away with that in Europe for a variety of reasons.

        I say that because I know a guy who liked to have cranes ‘disappear’ off the dock in CA. At least that’s what he told the bank happened. My guess was it was in Beijing helping prepare for the Olympics.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        Mexico.

      • 0 avatar
        johnthacker

        Eh, if it were Mexico, wouldn’t you expect to find a Texas city on the list? Yet I don’t see, for instance, El Paso.

      • 0 avatar
        mshenzi

        A nice little subset is northwestern, too– is pursuit of stolen property the long awaited justification for invading Canada?

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Mmmm. I wonder what the CA law enforcement have to say about this.
    These clowns make it a habit to treat car theft like a nuisance. Their attitude is ‘we have more important things to do’ than wasting time on car thefts.

  • avatar

    YAY… I live in MANHATTAN and drive two very distinct vehicles.
    I’m SAFE!!!

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I think Jerry Brown and the Sierra Club are behind all the California thefts. Get those damned pollution devices off the road so people are forced to take the “Train to Nowhere”. No wonder they call it the Granola State.

  • avatar
    Marko

    West Coast has thefts, East Coast has insurance fraud…

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Hmmmm…West Coast is definitely not a Domestic car haven and in in a little Californician…you get the picture.

  • avatar
    C P

    Can we at least ‘pretend’ we’re not promoting criminal activity here. You could have just said the 20 places w/ the highest car theft rates. We can fill in the blanks based on our .. uh.. ‘needs’..(?)

  • avatar
    Wscott97

    I’m so proud of the Central Valley, They made the top three cities in America, and 5 made it on the list of 20. Woo-hoo.

  • avatar
    cadarette

    I will never understand how car manufacturers can incorporate technologies like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, freakin’ in-car heartbeat detectors, etc., but they can’t design an ignition system to thwart a bunch of meth-addled highschool dropouts.

  • avatar
    silverkris

    To add to what toxicroach was saying, I wonder how come Newark, NJ wasn’t in the top 20 – given that the Port Authority of NY-NJ terminals, lots of highways for convenient movement of cargo facilitates the shipping of stolen vehicles to other countries.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Shipping stolen cars out of the US is probably not an especially lucrative business, shipping cars ain’t cheap and they are easily detected. Driving to mexico on the other hand…

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I doubt Mexico has anything to do with it. The only area it can really explain is San Diego. It’s a long drive from the Bay Area/Central Valley to Mexico. Besides, as johnthacker said above, if thieves take cars to Mexico, why don’t we see any cities in TX on this list?

        I’m leaning toward lack of resources to fight non-violent crime.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Ever notice how Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield and Stockton, California are on almost every one of these “Worst ____ in the U.S.” lists? Worst real estate market, worst employment, some of the worst crime.

    I’d be willing to put up with a lot of the craziness in order to live on the California coast. But the Central Valley sounds like one of the most absolutely awful places in the U.S.

  • avatar
    tiredoldmechanic

    Spokane Washington? I’m surprised to see that. Back in the 80′s I spent a fair amount of time there because of the AHRA sanctioned dragstrip and lots of cheap musclecars and junkyards full of rare stuff. In those days getting arrested in Spokane was all too easy. Nice folks, but they didn’t tolerate any crap back then.
    Times change I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      Boxer2500

      If it didn’t already have the lovely nickname, “Spokompton” I would probably refer to it as Tweakerville.

      • 0 avatar
        tiredoldmechanic

        That one went right over my head.
        I only have good memories of Spokane. Except for getting arrested that one time. And the cop was actually a pretty decent guy.
        Last year my wife and I passed through Spokane and I insisted on heading out to the old dragstrip. It’s still there, but there is a massive casino and hotel where the overflow parking used to be. The Bagdad Motel is gone. No more B-52s taking off every 30 minutes. Didn’t see Moe Orville anywhere. Like I said, times change.

      • 0 avatar
        Boxer2500

        Spokane has a terrible meth problem, which prompted people from the surrounding region to give it a nickname comparing it to a crime-ridden area in Greater Los Angeles. Is that literal enough for you?

      • 0 avatar
        BeyondBelief

        “Spokompton” is so 2004.

        It’s called “Spokanistan” now.

    • 0 avatar
      Seiichi79

      Spokane in the 80′s was a nice place. i have been here my entire life. the early 90′s is when spokane went to s**t. i have personally had 3 cars stolen from me(all being japanese cars). within the last 6 months i personally know 9 ppl that have had vehicles stolen as well. meth isnt quite the issue here that it used to be. early 2000′s we were in the top 3 for meth related crimes and meth busts but that number has dropped over the last few yrs

  • avatar
    obbop

    “the Central Valley sounds like one of the most absolutely awful places in the U.S.”

    Lived in Modesto and surrounding areas for years.

    Worked in agriculture from Fresno to Modesto.

    Often was immersed within Chicano culture and, at times, my being an Anglo and a USA citizen made me a small minority.

    Viva La Raza is assuredly worthy of having a finger pointed at that cohort for a too-large percentage of auto thefts, gang warfare and many crimes against property.

    Dodged bullets aimed at me for being in the wrong side of town…. the illegals portion.

    Cult of machismo was tough being around.

    Worst was when it took 8 to stomp me. That hurt.

    Wealth can distance one’s self from much of what us working-poor had to face daily.

    Have a lovely week!!!

    PS: fled for the USA when I departed my home state of California in 1993.

    • 0 avatar
      jetcal1

      obbop,
      Just to throw a little fuel on fire; perhaps it’s not about being poor. Aren’t these predominantly blue areas policitically?

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        It’s not a blue vs. red story. The Greens have shut off Sacramento delta water to the central valley, creating even more poverty than would exist there normally. The valley is huge, a car is needed to get anywhere, and the poor are stealing from the poor – it’s not BMWs and E-classes being stolen, but older Fords, Chevys and Dodges, I’ll guess half of them trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        robdaemon

        I was born and raised in Bakersfield (20 years there, total.) It’s not even remotely a blue area. The entire Central Valley is predominately Republican.

        It’s a terrible place to live. (not related to its political leanings)

        Horrible weather, worst pollution in the nation, high amounts of drug use and crime.

        I left 14 years ago and haven’t looked back.

      • 0 avatar
        Conslaw

        If you live in a dessert, you don’t have a right to as much water as you want pumped in from somewhere else. If the farmers in the Central Valley had their way, they’d pump in humongous quantities of water, and their land would be completely saturated with salt and dead within 10 years. It’s the West. There’s not enough water to go around. The greens have fought for and won the right to restore to natural channels a mere fraction of the water that nature once provided. When it comes to water in the West, everybody makes compromises. That’s just the way it goes.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Fifteen of the 20 cities are in California or Washington. However Oregon is absent. Lax laws and easy access to the deep water ports and Mexico as you go further south?

    Seattle has gotten “better” over the last couple of years – the rate was even higher. A lot of the theft previously was simple joy riding because the laws were so lax. The courts do catch and release and even adult offenders have to be caught/released something like 5 to 7 times before they see any serious county jail time. Juveniles? Pffffttt…they all but pat them on the head and tell them, “don’t be seen driving stolen cars in these parts again, or we’ll give you another lollipop.”

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    For a long time wasn’t Newark NJ at the top of this list?

    The fact that they are almost all now in California doesn’t say good things to me about California.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      The Newark-Hoboken area used to be the chop shop capital of America. I believe the Feds closed most of them while going after traditional organized crime families and RICO convictions. When the penalties jumped from months or at most a couple of years of state time too decades of federal, most fled the area.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        Ahh ok, I wondered about that. Thanks. Must explain why there is the huge proliferation of used car dealers now doing buy here/pay here deals. Mostly used BMW’s and MB’s. Kinda funny for Newark NJ.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Not surprised and I’d be surprised if many of those cars that were stolen were newer than 2004 when 99.99% of all cars sold had an immobilizer system. Mazda finally fitted their entry level car, the Mazda3 with it in 2004 when it made its debut, but the Protege and Protege5 missed out as I found out with my P5 (not, it’s not been stollen but some punk got in and took a few sundry items, nothing of any real value and left potentially valuable items and never touched the way back where I had my cheap set of roadside tools in a Huffy bag.

    And I’d just put in a decent JVC double din head unit that weekend with USB, Aux and Bluetooth and it is still in the car.

    And this occurred in Seattle back in late May.

    As to the list, not surprising to say the least.

    And I should say that the guy from Safelite auto glass who came out to clean up and replace my driver’s door window said he’s seeing an increase in petty crimes of stealing basic stuff. Apparently, people are getting desperate in this economy as he’d just done 6 windows prior to mine.

    • 0 avatar
      Seiichi79

      well if seattle is anything like spokane it will only get worse. our city government here got rid of the property theft unit around late summer last year. there has been a HUGE rise in home invasions and car theft since.

  • avatar
    DisTurbo

    Australia has a city notorious for car theft. It’s called Logan.


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