California cities lead nation in car theft, insurance industry says

California cities lead the list of the nation's hot spots for auto theft.

Eight of the top 10 metropolitan areas for car theft are in California, with Modesto ranking as the worst in the nation, according to an analysis of 2012 FBI crime data by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.


Fresno was the second worst nationally, followed by Bakersfield and then Stockton. Yakima, Wash., was fifth. Spokane, another Washington city, was the only other city not in California to break into the top 10 list, ranking ninth.

"California has always been the state for the most auto thefts," said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the insurance industry trade group. "There is no competitor even close."

Scafidi said the state's dubious leadership in car theft probably results from the fact that it has more cars than other states and that because the weather is good, the cars last longer.

There's also a lot of drug crime, especially in the Central Valley, that correlates with car theft and other property crime, he said.

Modesto experienced about 817 car thefts per 100,000 people last year. Fresno had 798 and Bakersfield had 794.

Some coastal Northern California areas also had high rates. San Francisco/Oakland was sixth nationally with 633 thefts per 100,000 people. San Jose was seventh with 623 thefts.

Los Angeles/Anaheim was 23rd nationally with 323 thefts per 100,000 people.


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