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10 Cities With the Worst Auto Theft Rates


LeventeGyori / Shutterstock.com

Steer clear of the Western U.S. — and California in particular — if you want to keep your car out of the clutches of thieves.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s latest annual Hot Spots report shows that once again, cities in the West dominate the list of places in the U.S. where cars are most likely to be stolen.

In compiling the report, the nonprofit NICB analyzed vehicle theft data from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center to identify the U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest per capita rates of vehicle theft last year.

In 2020, car thefts surged in Colorado by 37%. But two California cities — Bakersfield and Yuba City — still topped Denver as the cities with the most auto thefts per 100,000 residents — about 905 and 724, respectively. It was the second straight year that Bakersfield had the dubious honor of finishing first on the list.

Western U.S. metropolitan areas dominate the list of places where cars are most vulnerable to theft. The 2020 rankings are as follows:

  1. Bakersfield, California
  2. Yuba City, California
  3. Denver, Colorado
  4. Odessa, Texas
  5. San Francisco
  6. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  7. Pueblo, Colorado
  8. Billings, Montana
  9. St. Joseph, Missouri
  10. Tulsa, Oklahoma

There were 880,595 vehicle thefts nationwide in 2020, an increase from the 794,019 thefts in 2019. About one vehicle is stolen every 36 seconds.

The NICB says thefts were up “significantly” across the nation in 2020. However, thefts dropped sharply in Puerto Rico and a handful of states. The list of places where the number of thefts is falling includes:

  • Puerto Rico
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Nevada
  • Maryland
  • New Mexico
  • Alaska
  • New Jersey
  • West Virginia

How to get the best car insurance rates

If you live in one of the states that made the NICB list, there’s a decent chance you are paying more for car insurance. Living in an area with high rates of theft can drive insurance premiums higher.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep a lid on your car insurance costs no matter where you live.

Perhaps the single best way to do that is to shop around — periodically compare the rate you pay with the rates other insurers are offering.

You can do that by calling multiple insurers or filling out forms on their websites for quotes. Or, you can let a free third-party service like The Zebra or Gabi do the work for you, obtaining quotes for you to choose from.

For more tips, check out Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson’s take on “How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.