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Where Your Car Is Most Likely to Be Stolen

Taking a little time off this week. My daughter turned 21 (21!) and she's decided she wants me to go with her to Las Vegas. That way she doesn't have to pay for anything.

How could I say no?

We'll be driving. Gas prices are falling and airline prices are rising.

While the two of us might get a little crazy—emphasis on "little"—I can rest assured that one thing is safer in Vegas than back home in California: my car.

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Adam Gault | Digital Vision | Getty Images

The Golden State dominates the list of cities where you're most likely to have your car stolen.

The worst three cities are in the heart of California's farm country — Fresno, Modesto (backdrop for "American Graffiti"), and Bakersfield. Based on what I see driven there, F-150s and decrepit old Impalas must be hot, figuratively speaking.

The National Insurance Crime Bureausays car thefts per 100,000 residents are rising in that region, even as the number is dropping nationally. In Fresno, there were 7,559 car thefts reported in 2010, or 812 per 100,000 residents.

Out of the top 10 spots, only two are outside California—Spokane at #4 and Yakima at #10 (what's going on up in Washington apple country?)

California has the most people, has the most cars, and has the most thieves. Why so many per capita? You are nothing without a car here.

Nobody walks in LA.

I drive, therefore I am.

The Business Journal in Fresno reportsthat police believe car crime is up in the Central Valley because of the increased use of methamphetamine (users need cash) and the desire for car parts needed for street racing.

The Journal reports that even though the Central Valley is the worst based on per capita thievery, you can guess where to largest number of actual thefts occur. "They lose as many cars in the half time at a Lakers game in Los Angeles as they do in Modesto," says Frank Scafidi of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

So if I'm playing the odds, which I will this week, I'm safer out of state.

Las Vegas is way down at #17 on the list.

I'll still lock the car.

Here is the list:

  1. Fresno, Calif.
  2. Modesto, Calif.
  3. Bakersfield-Delano, Calif.
  4. Spokane, Wash.
  5. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.
  6. Sacramento, Calif. area
  7. Stockton, Calif.
  8. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
  9. San Francisco-Oakland, Calif. area
  10. Yakima, Wash.
  11. Laredo, Texas
  12. Detroit, Mich. area
  13. Seattle, Wash. area
  14. Macon, Georgia
  15. San Diego, Calif. area
  16. Myrtle Beach, SC area
  17. Las Vegas, Nev.
  18. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
  19. Jackson, Miss.
  20. Albuquerque, NM

Source: NICB

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