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Don't Park Your Car In Modesto, Calif.

Modesto, Calif., the city that inspired the coming-of-age film American Graffiti, is the nation's top hot spot for car theft.

The worst metro areas for car theft:
  1. Modesto, Calif.
  2. Fresno, Calif.
  3. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif.
  4. Stockton, Calif.
  5. Yakima, Wash.
  6. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.
  7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  8. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.
  9. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash.
  10. Redding, Calif.

The Central Valley city and the surrounding Stanislaus County area posted the highest rate of vehicle thefts per capita of any area of the country in 2012, according to the latest "Hot Spots" report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill.

Modesto was one of eight California metropolitan statistical areas to make this year's top 10 list, which is based on preliminary FBI vehicle theft statistics for 2012. (Metropolitan statistical areas, designated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, often include areas larger than the cities for which they're named.) Yakima, Wash., and the Spokane and Spokane Valley, Wash., areas were the only two places outside the Golden State to make the top 10.

The Midland, Mich., area had the lowest car theft rate in the country, followed by State College, Penn., Glens Falls, N.Y., Ithaca, N.Y., and the Salisbury, Md., areas.

Familiar suspects in the top 10

Most of the metro areas that made this year's top 10 ranking were in the top 10 last year, which was based on 2011 vehicle-theft data. Modesto and Fresno switched places from last year when Fresno was No. 1 and Modesto was No. 2.

"Those places show up year after year on the [top 10] list," NICB spokesperson Frank Scafidi says.

Newcomers to the latest top 10 list are Redding, Calif., and the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. areas. Redding, about 160 miles north of Sacramento, skyrocketed to No. 10 from No. 40, and the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area -- home to Silicon Valley -- rose to No. 7 from No. 20.

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