Car thieves love Cal­i­for­nia

Led by the Bay Area, the state is home to seven of top 10 metro ar­eas for auto theft.

Los Angeles Times - - HIGHWAY 1 - By Jerry Hirsch jerry. hirsch@ latimes. com

Led by the San Fran­cisco Bay Area, Cal­i­for­nia metropoli­tan ar­eas top the na­tion in per capita auto theft, ac­cord­ing to an in­sur­ance in­dus­try re­port.

The Na­tional In­sur­ance Crime Bureau said this week that there were 29,093 car thefts in the San Fran­cisco-Oak­land- Hayward metro- poli­tan area last year. That amounted to 633 ve­hi­cles stolen per 100,000 res­i­dents, mak­ing the area sup­plant Bak­ers­field as the worst re­gion in the na­tion.

Bak­ers­field was sec­ond in 2014 with 5,211 thefts, or 596 per 100,000 res­i­dents. The Stock­ton- Lodi re­gion gave Cal­i­for­nia the top three spots on the list. It had 4,245 thefts last year or 593 per 100,000 res­i­dents.

Although ve­hi­cle thefts are well into a long- term de­cline, cars still get stolen daily. Older ve­hi­cles are stolen pri­mar­ily for their parts, while newer, high- end ve­hi­cles of­ten are shipped over­seas and sold, the in­sur­ance group said.

Seven of the top re­gions for car theft are in Cal­i­for­nia. Odessa, Texas, with 886 ve­hi­cles stolen, or a rate of 576 thefts per 100,000 res­i­dents, is fourth in the rank­ings.

The Los An­ge­les- Ana­heim metro area ranked 39. It had 47,517 cars stolen last year, but that was 358 per 100,000 res­i­dents.

“Cal­i­for­nia has al­ways had more ve­hi­cles that any other state,” said Frank Scafidi, di­rec­tor of public af­fairs for the Na­tional In­sur­ance Crime Bureau, “and that cre­ates the en­vi­ron­ment for higher thefts.”

Nonethe­less, ve­hi­cle theft in Cal­i­for­nia has fallen to about half of what it was in the 1990s, Scafidi said. There were 159,271 thefts in Cal­i­for­nia last year, down from 171,036 in 2013 and 257,543 in 2005.

Smart or transpon­der keys are re­spon­si­ble for much of the de­cline be­cause they make ve­hi­cles harder to steal.

The rest of the top 10 re­gions for ve­hi­cle theft are Modesto; Spokane, Wash.; Vallejo- Fair­field, Calif.; Seat­tle- Ta­coma; Fresno and Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Wally Skalij Los An­ge­les Times

AN LAPD OF­FI­CER takes pic­tures of a crime scene at Alameda and 103rd streets where a man in a stolen taxi­cab led po­lice on a three- hour chase through the streets of South Los An­ge­les in April.

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