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