Car Thieves Love California

Ben Popken
Cars parked on a steep slope in San Francisco. Car theft is on the rise in California with the Bay area topping the list.
Rainer Martini | Getty Images

A new National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) report says that California once again leads the nation in car thefts per capita, with the Bay Area surging into first and six other California cities in the top ten. (Tweet This)

San Francisco and Oakland top the list with a combined 29,093 stolen cars in 2014, or 633.3 thefts per 100,000 people. Bakersfield and Stockton are second and third with nearly 600 thefts per 100,000 perople. Two other cities in the Greater Bay Area, Vallejo and San Jose, are also in the top ten. In all, 15 of the top 30 cities in the country are in California.

"California is always number one for car theft," said NICB spokesman Frank Scafidi. "There's just more cars, and the cars are in better shape because of the nicer weather."

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That makes for richer targets for those who steal the cars to resell overseas. Stolen cars are often shipped out out of California's busy seaports.

California's methamphetamine abuse problem also helps drive some thefts, said Scafidi, as users steal cars to make a quick buck off stripped parts.

To fight theft, the report recommends using tracking, warning, and immobilizing devices, along with "common sense," like not parking where it's dark.

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