Northern and Central California continue to dominate the National Insurance Crime Bureau's latest auto-theft Hot Spots report.
The NICB measured vehicle theft rates per capita for 380 metropolitan areas based on reported 2014 vehicle thefts. While California cities landed in seven of the 10 worst spots, vehicle thefts were actually flat to declining in all of them.
On the other hand, the booming Seattle-Tacoma area zoomed into the top 10 with a 12 percent increase in reported thefts. In the city of Seattle alone, thefts topped 5,400 in 2014, up from about 3,500 in 2012, according to police department records. The city says it's successfully cutting that number by using automated license-plate readers and targeting neighborhoods with the worst records.
A little more than half of stolen vehicles are eventually recovered, according to federal data. (See “What to do if your car is stolen.”)
Here are the worst-hit cities for car theft, according to the NICB, compared with their 2013 rankings and total thefts:
2014 car theft hot spots
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (29,093) 4 (29,326)
- Bakersfield, Calif. (5,211) 1 (6,267)
- Stockton-Lodi, Calif. (4,245) 5 (4,245)
- Odessa, Texas (886) 12 (764)
- Modesto, Calif. (3,047) 3 (3,565)
- Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. (3,032) 7 (3,205)
- Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (2,414) 8 (2,540)
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. (20,268) 13 (18,128)
- Fresno, Calif. (5,260) 2 (6,750)
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (10,531) 9 (10,925)
For the complete list, see "380 cities ranked for car thefts."Car owners are not insured against theft unless they have bought comprehensive coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. It is typically among the least expensive coverages for most drivers. The most stolen cars tend to be older models taken for their parts value. About 60 percent of drivers buy comprehensive, but the ones least likely to buy it are most likely to need it. According to Insurance.com data, by the time most vehicles are 15 years old, only a third of owners buy comprehensive, and that falls to 20 percent by 20 years old.