Car Theft In California Is On The Rise – What You Can Do
California has the honor of just being named by National Insurance Crime Bureau as having 7 out of 10 of the worst cities in America for car theft. Find out what cities are having the largest theft problems and what you can do to prevent this from happening to you.
Here’s the full list, with the total number of stolen vehicles, thefts per 100,000 people and previous ranking:
- Fresno, Calif.: 7,621 total thefts, or 808 per 100,000 people (2010 ranking: 1)
- Modesto, Calif.: 3,315/639 per 100,000 (2)
- Bakersfield-Delano, Calif.: 5,240/615 per 100,000 (3)
- Spokane, Wash.: 2,614/552 per 100,000 (4)
- Yakima, Wash.: 1,308/529 per 100,000 (10)
- San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, Calif.: 23,223/529 per 100,000 (9)
- Stockton, Calif.: 3,532/507 per 100,000 (7)
- Anderson, S.C.: 911/483 per 100,000 (33)
- Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.: 2,002/481 per 100,000 (5)
- Visalia-Porterville, Calif.: 2,124/473 per 100,000 (8)
Protection can lower insurance rates and reduce car theft
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.
Some Carriers 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 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 or broker 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.
- Audible alarms: “Alarms are typically equipped with motion or impact sensors which trigger a 120-decibel siren.” Cost: $150 to $1,000.
- Steering column collars: “Collars prevent thieves from ‘hot-wiring’ the vehicle. Some collars are installed permanently. Others must be continuously activated.” Cost: $100 to $200 installed.
- Steering wheel locks: “The lock is a metal bar designed to prevent the steering wheel from turning (and) is an excellent visible deterrent.” Cost: $25 to $100.
- Steering wheel/brake pedal locks: “Prevents depression of the brake pedal (and again) is a visible deterrent.” Cost: $15 to $80.
- Wheel locks: “Similar to the circular steel ‘boots’ used by many large city police departments, tire locks prevent the vehicle from being driven.” Cost: $80 to $200.
- Tire locks/tire deflators: “Attaches to the tire valve stem and causes the tire to go flat if the tire rotates before they are removed.” Cost: less than $50.
- Window etching: “Etching the vehicle identification number or other traceable number onto the vehicle’s windows makes it difficult for thieves to resell the vehicle or its parts” and helps police recover the car. Cost: free (do it yourself) to $100.