Be careful parking your car on the streets of Fresno, Calif. According to data released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a non-profit organization that tracks auto theft and insurance fraud, Fresno is number one in the U.S. when it comes to the number of stolen cars, with 808.25 thefts per 100,000 cars in 2011. The city of roughly half a million also topped the list last year. Seven of the top 10 cities with the most stolen cars are in California, including Modesto, Bakersfield, and Stockton.
“California has dominated the list for years,” Frank Scafidi, the director of public affairs at the NICB, told Forbes. The Golden State has more vehicles and more people than any other state; with that combination, “you get more vehicle theft activity,” he explained. The NICB measures the auto theft rate of 366 cities based on registration data and insurance reports.
The nation as a whole, however, saw a 3.3% decrease in car thefts from 2010 to last year, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); in 2010, more than 230,000 cars were stolen nationwide. The frequency of theft claims for cars and SUVs has also gone down since 1998, reports the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Experts attribute the dwindling number of stolen cars to better technology that helps prevent theft.
Still, drivers are advised to practice common sense to discourage car thieves by removing the keys from the car, locking the door, closing the windows, and setting an alarm. For greater security anti-theft experts recommend using locks for the steering wheel, brake or wheels.