Every year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) releases their Hot Spots vehicle theft report. According to the 2016 report, which came out this month, the Albuquerque, New Mexico metro area has the highest auto theft rate.

NICB's 2016 Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report

The NICB compiles the Hot Spots report using vehicle theft data from the National Crime Information Center.

Before we look at the top 10 auto theft hot spots, understand that the data relates to metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) designated by the Office of Management and Budget. So, when you see a city's name, keep in mind that its MSA typically includes an area much larger than the city itself.

The Top 10 Metro Areas in Terms of Auto Theft Rate Per Capita:

  • 1. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • 2. Pueblo, Colorado
  • 3. Bakersfield, California
  • 4. Modesto, California
  • 5. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California
  • 6. Anchorage, Alaska
  • 7. Merced, California
  • 8. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
  • 9. Fresno, California
  • 10. Billings, Montana

Here are some interesting tidbits about the top 10 list:

  • Albuquerque topped the list after climbing to the No. 2 in the 2015 Hot Spots report.
  • Six of the top 10 are in California.
  • Modesto ranked first last year but fell down a few spots to No. 4 for 2016.
  • Anchorage jumped all the way up to No. 6 after ranking 49th in 2015.
  • Albuquerque, Pueblo, Bakersfield, Modesto, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward all ranked in the top 10 last year.

The list of 10 metro areas refers to vehicle theft rate. NICB notes that this type of population-based survey can allow areas with a smaller population and a moderate number of thefts to have a higher theft rate than an area with a large population and a much more significant theft problem.

To drive home that last point, the NICB gave an example. Billings, Montana saw 877 recorded car thefts in 2016 and placed 10th per capita, while Los Angeles, California saw 60,670 total thefts but placed 35th per capita.

Here are the top 10 MSAs in terms of total thefts:

  • 1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California: 60,670
  • 2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California: 29,414
  • 3. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California: 25,708
  • 4. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas: 25,069
  • 5. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Illinois: 22,853
  • 6. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York/New Jersey: 21,145
  • 7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington: 20,704
  • 8. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas: 20,229
  • 9. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida: 20,207
  • 10. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia: 19,220

Tips to Prevent Vehicle Theft from Happening to You

According to preliminary 2016 data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, car thefts are up 6.6% across the nation over 2015. Vehicle owners can follow these tips to better protect their cars from being stolen.

  • Don’t Leave the Keys In It
    According to NICB, between 2013 and 2015, a total of 147,434 cars were reported stolen with the keys left in them. It's not that complicated, folks. Just take your keys, lock it up, and close your windows every time you leave your car unattended. You shouldn't take chances, even if you're only making a quick stop.
  • Park Strategically
    You should always try to park in a well-lit area whenever possible. Utilizing parking lots with attendants or security guards also helps. Another tip: avoid parking near exits in lots and garages so that thieves can't make a fast getaway.
  • Use Theft Deterrent Devices
    Consider going a step further beyond the traditional car alarm. You can protect your vehicle with warning devices such as steering column collars, VIN etching, and wheel locks. Another common protection is installing a GPS tracking device to help authorities recover your car if it is stolen.

The Bottom Line

Protecting your car from would-be thieves typically requires only a common sense approach, but people in areas listed in the NICB's report may be better off taking extra care.

If you need to finance a vehicle but your credit is holding you back, it's time to team up with Auto Credit Express. Our fast and free service connects car buyers to local special finance dealerships that are capable of handling unique situations.

Get started right now by completing our car loan request form online.