By on June 13, 2016

car theft

Where is a parked car not a parked car? The answer is California, where your vehicle will magically transform into an empty spot with a scattering of window glass on the pavement.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) just released its 2015 vehicle theft Hot Spots report, and the Golden State gets top billing, with eight of its cities listed in the top 10.

Modesto, California takes the gold medal for car theft, with a per capita rate of 756 thefts per 100,000 people. Bakersfield, Salinas and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward also placed in the top five. The two non-California cities in the top 10 were Albuquerque, New Mexico (second place, with 733 thefts per 100,000) and Pueblo, Colorado (seventh place, up from 24th last year).

The other California hot spots were Stockton-Lodi, Merced, Riverside, San Bernadino-Ontario, and Vellejo-Fairfield. While the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area had the most total vehicle thefts (57,247), the area’s sizable population kept it out of the top 10 when the crimes were measured on a per capita basis.

If you’re looking for somewhere to live where the only dangers to your car are falling nuts, hail, rust and depreciation, head to Altoona, Pennsylvania. That city recorded a per capita rate of 30 thefts per 100,000 people. Next in line in the safe zone were New York cities Glen Falls, Watertown-Fort Drum, and Kingston. Harrisonburg, Virginia placed fifth safest with a rate of 32.79 thefts per 100,000.

According to FBI statistics, vehicle thefts rose one percent over the first half of 2015. The NICB recommends drivers use four layers of defense when parking their car, with the first layer being common sense — that’s the thing you use when you decide not to park the Civic under the overpass, next to the broken streetlight, with the windows rolled down and the keys in the ignition.

Don’t be that guy.

The other layers include warning, immobilizing and tracking devices, though the following anti-theft device can’t be condoned, nor is it supported by existing legislation:

[Image: jon collier/Flickr]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

80 Comments on “California Car Thieves Still Doing Their Part to Encourage Walking...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Most annoying thing about that video clip is how the title text zooms forward and is not at all centered in the screen.

    Looks like the burglar’s friend had a big passing of gas when the car exploded, which knocked him over independently of it.

    DenverMike will be here for further frame-by-frame shortly.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Re: the pic

    I’m sure the manual transmission was enough to foil the would-be car thief ;)

  • avatar
    yamahog

    Back logs of rape kits and unsolved property crimes but the police have enough man power to get 4 squads on the scene of a dude trying to resist arrest.

  • avatar
    duncanator

    It is worth pointing out that a lot of people keep many things in their car to make it worth it. I have neighbors in my area that post on nextdoor complaining about vehicle break-ins where a laptop or tools are stolen out of their cars.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    17300 vehicle thefts and burglaries (not the same, but that’s the statistics I find) in Norway makes for 346 incidents per 100000 inhabitants. That’s right in the middle of the above numbers.
    https://www.ssb.no/sosiale-forhold-og-kriminalitet/statistikker/lovbrudda/aar/2015-04-15

    I remember when I was a kid someone tried to patent a flamethrower mounted under a BMW 7 as an anti theft device. It made the evening news.

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      There is a company in South Africa that actually installs those – as well as spring loaded blades that will take out the ankles of a potential car jacker…

  • avatar
    mason

    Why run for the border when you can drive?

    José es inteligente.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      This would imply an illegal wants to return to Mexico of his own accord, in a stolen car. Unless I’ve missed something in this joke?

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        Unfortunately it’s not much of a joke. The National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that approximately 1/3 of unrecovered stolen vehicles end up in Mexico. Also, according to them the states that border Mexico have a theft rate of nearly double the national average.

        Apparantly, customs doesnt monitor what goes out nearly as closely as what comes in.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Do you suppose a 98 Corolla beater is safe from thieves?

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    I’m in So Fl.where car thievery has kept me from getting a used Civic instead of the dull Corolla

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      You are a smart cookie.

      I have a 1997 Civic LX 4-door 5-speed manual here in shaved-key Seattle (you can steal most 1990s Hondas with one of a handful of shaved ignition keys which all the car thieves have). So far, so good. But it is bone stock, with plastic wheel covers, with the sewing-machine-duty base D16Y7 engine.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I’ve been to Altoona once. It’s a very economically depressed place. The low rate of car theft is a surprise to me unless enterprising thieves are smart enough to not steal the beater cars that dominate the roads there. Might as well steal a good car since the penalty is the same.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      I don’t know if I would consider Altoona economically depressed. Maybe there aren’t alot of exciting things going on if you come from a big city, but industry has largely stayed the same if not marginally improved.

      http://www.abcdcorp.org/2014/03/altoona-pa-earns-a-1-ranking-from-site-selection-magazine/

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        to some people, any city which isn’t a crowded, smelly metropolis full of noise, lights, and hatred is “economically depressed.”

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        Yeah, maybe compared to Johnstown, Altoona isn’t economically depressed. But Altoona’s a town that was literally built by the Pennsylvania Railroad and it essentially died with it.

        The Altoona Works employed something like 16,000 people at it’s peak in the 1920s and ’30s. Norfolk Southern still operates a repair shop there with around 1,100 employees. Losing 15,000 jobs is a death blow to a city that peaked at 82,000 people. Today, the population isn’t much more than half that and the primary employer, like many failing rust belt cities, is now healthcare. Based on the accounts of my family in Blair County, the #2 industry is drugs.

        Central PA is pretty sad place.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Mason,

      I may be confusing Johnstown and Altoona.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      A lot of Pennsylvania is economically depressed, especially the small upstate towns like Hazleton and Tamaqua and places like Wayne.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I went to Uniontown and it definitely haz a sad.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Where’s Uniontown?

          Everything leading up to Knoebels is pretty sad too, especially since Centralia is near there.

          • 0 avatar
            Felix Hoenikker

            The mining counties in NE PA never really came out of the great depression especially with the decline of anthracite coal mining after WWII. I still have some relatives near Wilkes Barre. These towns are slowly shrinking away. Most of the young people leave for better employment opportunities. Those that stay really have to scramble to get even a mediocre paying job there. Very little crime except for drugs, but that’s pretty much everywhere in the US now.

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            Y’all just don’t know how to live off the land. Live simple.

            City life for everyone or FTW!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Uniontown is a couple hours S/SE of Philly, and is the nearest medium-sized place with hotels and such to Fallingwater. That’s why I was there.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Pittsburgh. A couple of hours south/southeast of Philadelphia puts you in the Atlantic Ocean.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I refused to be confined to your narrow-minded approach to cartography!

            Lol, but yes Pittsburgh.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    Thank you Obama and all of your illegal alien ilk.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    i don’t suppose that Uber or Lyft are gonna cut down on car thefts?

  • avatar

    I don’t know about thefts, but DC was a prime area for smash and grabs during the ’90s. I had two–someone stole a boom box from my then probably 14 year old 1977 Corolla. And around ’96 someone busted into my Saturn and took a back pack with a Nikon F3 in it.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      While DC has gotten vastly safer overall, I’ve noticed an increasing number of piles of shattered side window glass along residential side streets. Besides cell phone brackets I should probably put in the glove box, I leave nothing in sight in our cars that didn’t come from the factory.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Someone tried to steal my Toyota Camry from a park-n-ride in Washington state. Good thing the POS wouldn’t start (it died on me which is why I had left it there in the first place), so they settled for busting out almost all of the windows and stealing my CDs.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      They couldn’t just stop at one window? Sounds like they were pissed.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Good thing you have your uber-reliable Ford Taurus with the Vulcan 3.0 liter V6 that’s the most reliable car in history (8900% more reliable than the POS Toyota Camry) to rely on at times like those, bro!

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        Amen. May the God of Speed bless each and every of our personal biases.

      • 0 avatar
        Eiriksmal

        Can’t… stop… laughing… Almost spewed lunch on my monitors, thanks DW. Facebook recently reminded me that it was 6 years ago last month that the Vulcan in my ’01 Taurus left me stranded on the side of the interstate for the second, and final, time. It had electrical shorts in the main engine wiring harness that would eat the “PCM” fuse and shut the engine off while driving. On the interstate. Twice. Between that and its occasional tendency to diesel after turning the ignition off and removing the key… Yeah. Great American iron.

        Sold it for my first Maxima and never looked back (or had a car that wouldn’t immediately start). Long live the 6MT VQ!

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          VQ = one of the best motors of all time, used in a huge variety of Nissan/Infinity platforms, highly tunable, reliable in stock form, and durable.

          Had a super cool uncle-in-law (now deceased) who let me drive his cherished Nissan Maxima through much of Georgia on the way to Florida in 1995 with my cousin before I even had a license to drive (I was an excellent unlicensed driver!).

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Pueblo, Colorado – did a lot of stoners move there from out of state? Anyway, it’s got a crime rate higher than the national average:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pueblo,_Colorado#Crime

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Get a manual transmission, that will slow the thieves down. You still might get your windows smashed.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    all the more reason I’m glad I don’t (and never will) live in California. I even turned down a job opportunity because it would have relocated me there.

  • avatar
    3PointStar

    I sure did enjoy this site before every thread became the CoreyDL hour.

    Seriously man, back up off the keyboard.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Maybe there’s a huge pipeline running south from CA, but also very likely (as in other states where thefts have spiked in the past) that these vehicles are being cut up. Takes willful ignorance on the part of law enforcement to let this go on very long, if you know what I mean.

  • avatar
    Paul Alexander

    As a Stockton resident, a little disappointed Modesto got the crown, we’ll have to take it back next year. I do appreciate the fact, though, that the entire 209 area code is represented on the list. Very proud.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    What you need is the Trunk Monkey vehicle theft prevention system, because sometimes, getting your vehicle back isn’t enough.

  • avatar
    IAhawkeye

    Exactly why I leave nothing my car except my Oakley’s(but those are 5 years old now, does anyone even steal sunglasses and if they do, why?) and a few CD’s. At least when I’m in town and such. I guess they could steal my empty pop bottles.. there worth a whole 5 cents apiece..

    Admittedly I am pretty bad at just leaving the keys in and windows down with all my stuff inside when I go home.. but I also live in the middle of nowhere.. so I don’t feel as worried.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    I live in San Francisco with 2 cars. In the last year I had 4 vehicle break-ins, 2 in each car. One was inside my own building garage. I thank proposition 47 for that.

    P.S. cops are somewhat useless although I do know the last guy who broke into the garage got caught with my casino card and is enjoying jail. Until judge decides he did it because “drugs made him do it” and releases him again.

  • avatar
    Dave W

    I heard an interview with the head of the LAPD car theft unit in the late ’80s/early90s, during which he was asked what he does to keep his car from being stolen. His one line answer “I drive a Matador”.

  • avatar
    maserchist

    Matador; the only AMC product that looks better WITHOUT bumpers.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Victims learn the hard way or not at all.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    I live in a rural area in SE MI. Our area is somewhat upscale compared to the rest of the county (Lenawee) due to a man made lake with nicer homes around it. We have been here for 25 years. Every 4-6 years we get a rash of smash and grab (or just open the unlocked door)thefts. I attribute it to teens out to grab what they can. They usually nab the perps eventually. As there is not much other crime, these thefts get attention from LEO. Things quiet down then starts back up when a new crop of opportunists reaches the right age.
    When I lived in the City of Detroit-no cops ever came out for auto B & E or thefts. For that matter, they did not come out for home B & E either. The only time I remember a quick response was when my boss started firing at a crack head trying to steal his car. They arrested my boss for discharge of a weapon in the city limits.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Drew8MR: My Evo VIII only made 215 whp (Mustang dyno) brand new, and no one ever complained it was slow. People are...
  • namesakeone: Why am I thinking this is the 1980s…? “The Bolt! The Bolt! The Bolt is on fire! “We...
  • Dave M.: One of the reasons I love my Outback, matter of fact. It’s a beast in our torrential downpours. And the AWD...
  • Drew8MR: Too much work. But I’ll bet the dealer would trade you in a heartbeat.
  • zipper69: Rather surprised that some enterprising Chinese manufacturer hasn’t created a variable convertor plug...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber