Albuquerque, N.M. and Anchorage, Alaska Have Highest Car Theft Rates

The Albuquerque, N.M. metropolitan statistical area (MSA) repeats as having the highest per capita auto theft rate in 2017, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) latest Hot Spots report.

Hot Spots examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation’s MSAs. MSAs are designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and often include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, this year’s number one spot, the Albuquerque, N.M. MSA, includes all thefts within the entire county of Bernalillo, not just the city of Albuquerque.

New to the top 10 this year, the metro areas of St. Joseph, (No. 5) and Springfield, Mo. (No. 10). As a population-based survey, an area with a much smaller population and a moderate number of thefts can—and often does—have a higher theft rate than an area with a much more significant vehicle theft problem and a larger population to absorb it. Which is how St. Joseph, with 952 thefts, places 5th while Los Angeles, with 60,444 thefts places 33rd.

For 2017, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were: (thefts in parentheses)

2017 Ranking

  1. Albuquerque, N.M. (9,989)
  2. Anchorage, Alaska (3,274)
  3. Pueblo, Colo. (1,353)
  4. Redding, Calif. (1,352)
  5. St. Joseph, Mo. (952)
  6. Bakersfield, Calif. (6,560)
  7. Modesto, Calif. (3,870)
  8. Stockton-Lodi, Calif. (4,575)
  9. Yuba City, Calif. (1,050)
  10. Springfield, Mo. (2,686)

Each year the FBI releases preliminary Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data for the previous year’s January–June time frame. When the preliminary 2017 crime data was released earlier this year, vehicle theft was up 4.1 percent across the nation. That increase is reflected in this Hot Spots report and is expected to hold when the final UCR 2017 crime data is published in the fall.

Overall, said NICB, vehicle theft is down, dramatically, across the nation. The historic peak year for vehicle theft was 1991, with 1,661,738 reported thefts. In 2016, the total was 765,484. That is a 54 percent reduction since 1991.

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