Speaking of video games, with California topping the list with 8 out of 10 worst cities for auto theft, it is a no-brainer as to the setting of the PlayStation game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
For many non-residents, the "Golden State" appears to be an ideal place to reside given its continuously warm tropical climate, numerous celebrity occupants and a shot at stardom. Flip through a celeb magazine or tabloid and stars almost always seem to be somewhere in California. Many occupy the more glamorous cities such as Hollywood, Montecito, Toluca Lake and Los Angeles. On the flip side of the glitz and glamour, California is also known for its high crime rate, magnified by television documentaries such as MSNBC's Lockup: Raw.
Recent Violent Crime Statistics
Recent national crime data statistics indicate California's average crime rate is 187 (a coincidental number based on its slang definition) for every square mile. This number significantly exceeds the U.S. national average of 34. California may be high up on the list of states to reside, but given the violent crime ratio, those considering may want to reconsider: one out of every 178 Californians is a victim of a violent crime.
Auto Theft Statistics
Though auto theft is not classified as a violent crime, the numbers are alarmingly high, especially in California. California holds 8 out of 10 spots for the ten worst cities for auto theft, up from last year's 6 out of 10. Additionally, the state's auto theft average is nearly double the national average. Recent information compiled by NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) reveals that auto theft is a worsening problem. However, others suggest there is a decrease in auto theft for the following reasons:
•Tougher laws-New and improved laws with stiffer punishments in addition to better enforcement practices have proven effective. Video and audio-equipped bait cars with tracking devices are more often utilized resulting in more captures. When jackers enter a bait car, they are recorded on video. Officers are then able to slow the vehicle with special remote control equipment or even lock the jacker inside the car before apprehending.
•Improved factory-installed anti-theft devices-There is a commonality among car manufacturers to include anti-theft devices in newer vehicles. Sync (Ford) and OnStar (GM) are location tracking technologies that help find and recover stolen cars.
•Securing vehicles-Locking doors, rolling up windows, closing convertible tops, not leaving keys in the car and parking where there is adequate lighting.
The information gathered to compile the list of top 10 worst cities for auto theft was taken from NICB. This nonprofit organization is located in Des Plaines, Illinois. Its mission is to deter insurance fraud and auto theft. Data was collected from population standards from the U.S. Census Bureau with zip codes tied to vehicle crime reports for metropolitan areas.
Top 10 Worst Cities for Auto Theft
The top 10 worst cities for auto theft are as follows:
10. Yakima, Washington
9. San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, California
8. Visalia-Porterville, California
7. Stockton, California
6. Sacramento/Arden-Arcade//Roseville, California
5. Vallejo-Fairfield, California
4. Spokane, Washington
3. Bakersfield-Delano, California
2. Modesto, California
1. Fresno, California
With the highest auto theft rate at 812.40 (Fresno) for every 100,000 people to the lowest rate at 29.87 (State College, PA), the numbers reveal a wide gap between the top and bottom. Interestingly no metropolitan areas east of the Rocky Mountains made the top 10. Laredo, TX topped the list last year but didn't make the current list. Spokane, Washington moved from No. 18 to No. 4, a fourteen point difference. And while Albuquerque, New Mexico saw a decrease in auto theft, making its way off the list, Yakima, Washington also saw a decrease and went from No. 6 to No. 10.
California's Auto Theft Rate Imbalance
Some may wonder why California is disproportionately affected by auto theft, making up most of the top 10 list in comparison to other states. There are a few different reasons for its seemingly disproportionate statistics, which include the following:
•Cities neighboring Mexico and cities located centrally where drug and weapon trafficking business is especially high
•Enormous population-As one of the largest states in the U.S., California also has the largest population. Thus, the more residents, the higher the rate of incidence.
•The consistently warm temperature-California is also known for its ideal beach weather. However, this makes many of its residents prone to carelessness. Drivers leave windows down, doors unlocked and even tops down on convertibles for convenience or relief. These carefree attitudes present perfect opportunities for car jackers.
While there is no solid evidence that shows that crime rate increases as the economy worsens, common sense is necessary to help prevent auto theft. And though the numbers seem to indicate auto theft is on the decline-perhaps more so for the first time since 1967-and due to the tougher laws and practices, car thieves still find way to cash in on pettier auto-related incidences. Rims and tires remain a hot commodity. Airbags are worth $200. Profits aside, many thieves continue to steal vehicles to get from Point A to Point B. FBI statistics reveal that the financial cost of auto theft on consumes and insurance companies is at $ 8 billion per year with over one million vehicles stolen every year. Less than 60 percent are found.
How about that new car?