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California cities take top spots for vehicle thefts in the U.S.

July 19, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The Blossom Trail in Fresno County erupts with fragrant fruit tree blooms in spring. The area also has the highest number of vehicle thefts in the U.S., according to a recent report.
The Blossom Trail in Fresno County erupts with fragrant fruit tree blooms…

Fresno County draws travelers to its amazing Blossom Trail each spring when fruit trees erupt with color, but the area claims a dubious distinction too: vehicle theft capital of the United States.

California cities claimed seven of the top 10 spots where cars, trucks and vans were most often stolen nationwide in 2011, according to a report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Fresno, Modesto and the Bakersfield-Delano area claimed the three top spots for vehicle thefts last year for the second year in a row, according to the organization's Hot Spots 2011 report released last month. And the statistics include rental cars too, though they aren't recorded under a separate category.

The theft figures represent broad metropolitan areas (for example, Fresno includes all of Fresno County), and the number of thefts are calculated on a per capita basis to compensate for big cities vs. small cities.

The rest of  the top vehicle theft areas include:

4. Spokane, Wash.
5. Yakima, Wash.
6. San Francisco, Oakland and Fremont, Calif.
7. Stockton, Calif.
8. Anderson, S.C.
9. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.
10. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.

The first Southern California areas to hit the theft charts are Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area at No. 14, San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos at No. 16 and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana at No. 23.

The good news is that vehicle thefts in the U.S. have dropped a little — 3.3% — over last year, according to preliminary FBI crime statistics for 2011. Final FBI figures will be published in the fall.

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