A recent study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) showed that California was the number one state for car thefts in 2014. The report also listed the areas in California where auto theft occurred the most:
- The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan region had the most car thefts per capita, with a ratio of 633.3 thefts per 100,000 people (a combined total of 29,093 stolen cars)
- Bakersfield was second with approximately 596 thefts per 100,000 people (totaling 5,211 stolen cars)
- The Stockton-Lodi area reached 593 thefts per 100,000 residents (with 4,245 thefts in 2014)
Why is Car Theft so Prevalent in California?
Frank Scafidi, spokesman and director of public affairs for NICB, offered the following reasons for the disproportionate level of auto theft in California:
- Cars are generally maintained better in California – As a result of the state’s temperate weather, California vehicles are in better condition than they would otherwise be if they were in excessive heat or snow. Thus, stolen cars from California can fetch a higher price in illicit markets.
- Cars can be more easily transported out of the country via California’s proximity to sea lanes – California is optimally situated in terms of geography for the logistics of auto theft. As a coastal state, stolen cars can be smuggled out from the state’s seaports relatively quickly and easily.
- California has more cars – As anyone who has driven on interstate 405 during rush hour can attest, California is a largely vehicle-oriented state. According to Scafidi, there are more cars in California than there are in any other state, which increases the opportunity and likelihood of auto theft.
- California has a drug problem. Scafidi stated that the state’s widespread issue with methamphetamine abuse drives auto theft as users seek to quickly finance their addiction by stealing cars and selling them for parts.1
What are the Consequences of Car Theft?
California Vehicle Code Section 10851 prohibits the theft and unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle. According to this law, “any person who drives or takes a vehicle not his or her own, without the consent of the owner thereof, and with intent either to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner thereof of his or her title to or possession of the vehicle” is guilty of the crime of auto theft. This crime is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 364 days or a fine of up to $5,000 or both.2
If you steal a car, you could be charged with grand theft under California Penal Code Section 487(d)(1). Grand theft is a “wobbler” in California, which means it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. If you are convicted of misdemeanor grand theft, you face up to 364 days in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you are convicted of felony grand theft, you face up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Call the Theft Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Now
If you are facing charges of auto theft, you should contact our experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich right away. Our skilled attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing charges of auto theft. We are confident that we can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
We have offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville. Wherever you live or work, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense available to help you.
Call us at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.