The annual list of cities with the most stolen cars has bad news for drivers in the Golden State. California has the dubious honor of taking eight of the top 10 spots for stolen vehicles in the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) 2015 Hot Spots report.

Motorists in the Modesto area of Central California need to be especially watchful, as it was the metropolitan area with the highest per capita vehicle theft rate in the nation. Number two was Albuquerque, New Mexico followed by three other areas in Northern or Central California.

The NICB’s Top 10 Hot Spots metropolitan areas were:

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

The report also found a slight increase in vehicle thefts in 2015 compared to a year earlier.

The NICB said that older vehicles are taken for parts while newer, high-value vehicles are often shipped overseas or, after some disguising, sold to an innocent buyer. Others are stolen for a “joyride” and are most often abandoned and recovered.

There is nothing worse than going to the place you last parked your car and finding it gone. To prevent your car or truck from theft, the NICB recommends everyone use these four layers of anti-theft precautions:

Common Sense —is the easiest and most cost-effective way to thwart would-be thieves. You should always:

  • Remove your keys from the ignition
  • Lock your doors /close your windows
  • Park in a well-lit area

Warning Device — the second layer of protection is a visible or audible device which alerts thieves that your vehicle is protected. Popular devices include:

  • Audible alarms
  • Steering column collars
  • Steering wheel/brake pedal lock
  • Brake locks
  • Wheel locks
  • Theft deterrent decals
  • Identification markers in or on vehicle
  • VIN etching
  • Micro dot marking

Immobilizing Device — the third layer of protection is a device which prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys. Other devices inhibit the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine until a hidden switch or button is activated. Some examples are:

  • Smart keys
  • Fuse cut-offs
  • Kill switches
  • Starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers
  • Wireless ignition authentication

Tracking Device — the final layer of protection is a tracking system which emits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ “telematics” which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.

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