The odds of having your car stolen are higher in these 10 metropolitan areas. But you can take steps to protect your ride, and they might even earn an insurance discount.
The bad news for California drivers? Your state had the greatest number of hot spots in the country for auto thefts in 2011, according to a National Insurance Crime Bureau report released recently.
Fresno, Calif., was at the top of the list for the second year in a row. Modesto was second, also for the second straight year. Fresno and Modesto were among seven California metro areas that made the worst-10 rankings compiled by the NICB using federal, state and local crime statistics.
The NICB’s “Hot Spots 2011” report uses vehicle theft data from the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation’s metropolitan statistical areas. These areas are designated by the Office of Management and Budget and include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, the Fresno, Calif., metropolitan statistical area includes all thefts within the entire county of Fresno, not just the city of Fresno
It wasn’t all bad news in the annual report, though. The NICB says reported thefts fell nationwide for the second straight year, with preliminary FBI figures for 2011 showing a 3.3% drop from the 2010 total of 737, 142.
Here’s the full list, with the total number of stolen vehicles, thefts per 100, 000 people and previous ranking:
To better protect your ride, NICB spokesman Frank Scafidi recommends various anti-theft devices, from elaborate car alarms to simple steering locks you can buy at the local department store.
Aside from deterring crooks, the devices should earn you discounts on your insurance premiums. Although the savings differ from company to company and state to state, discounts should range from 15% to 20%, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Allstate, for example, offers a 10% anti-theft discount. Commerce, a smaller insurer, says on its website that the discount can reach 36% if you install an anti-theft device approved by the company.
Alarms and disabling devices are standard features on some vehicles. If you’re uncertain about which anti-theft features your car has, check the owner’s manual or call a dealer that’s familiar with your car model. Some insurance companies, such as Esurance, will automatically apply a discount to your insurance quote if your car comes factory-equipped with anti-theft devices.
The following anti-theft devices are recommended by the NICB. Many will qualify you for a policy discount with major insurers, but ask your agent to make sure. Included below is the approximate cost for each item, along with a quote about its use and effectiveness from a recent NICB statement.