“Hot Spots” may sound like a guide to the best nightclubs, but one particular list bearing that name isn’t about having fun.
The 2017 report—which covers thefts from 2016—also includes information from the FBI on all reported vehicle thefts. Preliminary numbers suggest that figure will be up 6.6 percent from the previous year, but overall, car thefts have dropped dramatically. In 1991, there were more than 1.6 million swiped vehicles reported, while thieves grabbed just over 700,000 in 2015.
Here’s what else the report says:
- For sheer volume, it’s hard to beat the Los Angeles area, which reported 60,670 stolen cars. Because of the large population, though, L.A. ended up No. 35 in the per-capita ranking.
- Two metropolitan statistical areas are first-timers to the top 10 list: Anchorage, Alaska; and Billings, Mont., which came in No. 6 and No. 10, respectively.
- The No. 1 hot spot last year, Modesto, Calif., dropped to the No. 4 spot in 2016. The number of stolen cars dropped by only a couple hundred, but with a small population, that’s all it took to move the needle.
The current list also includes Pueblo, Colo. (No. 2), and a few places in California: Bakersfield (No. 3); Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (No. 5); Merced (No. 7); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward (No. 8); and Fresno (No. 9).
But what everyone wants to know—who was No. 1? That title goes to Albuquerque, N.M., which saw 10,011 stolen vehicles. It was an increase of well over 3,000 cars from 2015, when the area ranked No. 2.
No matter where you live, though, car theft is a risk. Here are some precautions to help make your vehicle less of a target.
Be Mindful of Where You Park
Choose a well-lit area and park in a supervised lot or covered garage if possible. It may cost a little extra, but the added protection and peace of mind is well worth it.
Secure Your Vehicle
Remove your keys from the ignition. It sounds obvious, but a lot of cars are stolen with the keys still in them. Also close windows, lock doors and activate your car alarm if you have one. Never leave your car running and unattended.
Don’t Leave Valuables in Plain Sight
Remove or stow out of sight any purses, shopping bags, electronics, and any other valuables that may entice a thief. And never store your vehicle title in the car.
Take Advantage of Anti-theft Features
Many cars today come equipped with theft-prevention features such as ignition disablers and tracking systems. If your car doesn’t have them, consider having them installed for added protection. Anything from an audible alarm to a steering-column collar can tell car thieves your car is protected. Use smart keys, kill switches and other tech tools to prevent a thief from bypassing the ignition and hot-wiring your car. Also, install a tracking system to send a signal to police or a monitoring station if your vehicle is stolen. In some states, it could even qualify you for an additional discount on your auto insurance.
Read more: 5 Ways to Prevent Car Theft
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