Top 10 cities for vehicle theft


Vehicle theft rose by about 1% for the first half of 2015 across the nation, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Oddly enough, that increase was concentrated almost exclusively in a single state. But regardless of where you live, there are steps you can take to protect your car from becoming the target for a thief!

Read more: This $3,000 theft can happen to your truck in just seconds

California leads the nation in vehicle theft

The Golden State is ground zero for auto theft in the United States, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Last year alone, California had eight of the 10 metro areas with the most car theft per capita. The number of thefts are reported in parentheses below.

  2015 Ranking       
 1.  Modesto, Calif. (4,072)    
 2.  Albuquerque, N.M. (6,657)    
 3.  Bakersfield, Calif. (6,000)    
 4.  Salinas, Calif. (2,934)    
 5.  San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.         (30,554)    
 6.  Stockton-Lodi, Calif. (4,656)    
 7.  Pueblo, Colo. (983)    
 8.  Merced, Calif. (1,605)    
 9.  Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (25,001)    
 10.  Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (2,352)    

Because this survey is population based, the results may look a little funny at first glance.

For example, San Francisco clearly had more thefts than Modesto. But because this is per capita and the metro Modesto area has a much smaller population than the metro Bay area, Modesto is the ‘winner’ in this tally. 

Top 10 cities for vehicle theft

What can you do to prevent this crime?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a motor vechicle is stolen every 33 seconds in America. Only 57% of those vehicles reported as stolen are recovered.

Sometimes car theft may be beyond your control. For example, instances of crooks using laptops to break into newer car models have been captured on video.

But other times preventing the theft in the first place is very doable. About half of all car theft is a crime of opportunity. Leaving the keys in the car when you’re out and about running errands is the number one situation that a crook can capitalize on, according to the NHTSA. So don’t do it!


Here’s another thing you can do to deter thieves: Hide your owner’s manual! Some thieves have been known to use the owner’s manual to get replacement keys to vehicles they want to steal.

Here’s what AAA suggests you do to prevent auto theft:

  • Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed.  Even if you park your vehicle in a garage, this simple measure is added security. 
  • Never leave belongings out in the open in your car as they could tempt thieves.
  • Never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave your vehicle running any time you are not in it.
  • Keep your vehicle in secure, well-lit areas. When possible, park in a locked garage. Also, consider installing a motion-activated floodlight that illuminates the place where your car is parked.
  • Use anti-theft or automatic tracking devices. If your vehicle wasn’t equipped with an alarm or hidden tracking device when purchased, have one installed.
  • Remove spare keys from vehicle. Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle. Remove keys from under floor mats, etc.

Read more: Sunroof explodes while woman drives down highway

  • Show Comments Hide Comments