Claims News Service, Apr. 24, 9:39 a.m. EDT — The National Insurance Crime Bureau released its annual “Hot Spots” report on auto theft rates today, with western states continuing their long-standing tradition of hosting the hot beds of auto theft for the U.S.

Although Las Vegas, Nev., overtook the number one position as the “hot spot” capital of auto theft in the nation, California cities continued to dominate the national list with five of its cities/regions ranked in the top 10 spots. Stockton, Calif., was ranked number two, Visalia/Porterville was ranked number three, the Sacramento region was ranked number seven, and Fresno came in at number eight. But there was a silver lining of sorts for the state. Modesto, Calif., which has been ranked the number one city in auto thefts per capita for the last three years, dropped down to the number five ranking.

But the NICB’s research makes it clear that the auto-theft problem is a regional one. Neighboring states and West continue to dominate the list. Arizona’s Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale region and the city of Tucson were ranked number four and number 10, respectively. And Washington State also struggled, with the Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue region ranked number six, and Yakima ranked number nine.

To determine the rankings, the NICB said it reviewed data supplied by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation’s 361 metropolitan statistical areas. The rate was determined by the number of vehicle theft offenses per 100,000 inhabitants using the 2005 U.S. census population estimates, the most current figures available, the NICB reported.

“[The] NICB, through the support of its member companies, has pursued an aggressive ‘bait vehicle’ and license-plate-reader program around the nation,” said Robert M. Bryant, NICB’s president and CEO, in a release. “These cutting-edge enforcement tools offer law enforcement the latest in high-tech crime fighting, and are partly responsible for the absolutely outstanding results achieved in Modesto. When used in conjunction with comprehensive legislation and aggressive prosecution, police on the street can have a tremendous impact on vehicle theft and other crimes.”

The 10 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest vehicle theft rates for 2006 are:

1.Las Vegas/Paradise, Nev.

2.Stockton, Calif.

3.Visalia/Porterville, Calif.

4.Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, Ariz.

5.Modesto, Calif.

6.Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue, Wash.

7.Sacramento/Arden-Arcade/Roseville, Calif.

8.Fresno, Calif.

9.Yakima, Wash.

10.Tucson, Ariz.

For the complete information on “Hot Spots 2006,” please visit www.nicb.org.

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