We all leave our vehicles unattended every day. Sometimes, it’s just in the safe confines of a work parking lot or a secured garage, but other times – like when you run inside for what you thought would be a quick coffee stop at your neighborhood café – more risk is involved. Before you leave your car unlocked or worse, leave it with the keys in the ignition; do you know how safe your city is?

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The NICB (National Institute Crime Bureau) recently released a list of cities with the highest vehicle theft rates per capita, based on total statistics from 2014. Here’s the final ranking.

Cities with the Most Car Thefts (per Capita):

  1. San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, California (29,093)
  2. Bakersfield, California (5,211)
  3. Stockton-Lodi, California (4,245)
  4. Odessa, Texas (886)
  5. Modesto, California (3,047)
  6. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Washington (3,032)
  7. Vallejo-Fairfield, California (2,414)
  8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington (20,268)
  9. Fresno, California (5,260)
  10. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California (10,531)

Even if you don’t live in one of these cities, there are some preventive steps you can take to protect your car from theft.

  • Use Common Sense

If you were in a new area, you probably wouldn’t leave your car unlocked on the street or in a parking lot, so why do that in your hometown? Thieves can easily take advantage of perceived safety and comfort in less populated cities, and it’s simply not worth the risk. The extra seconds that it takes to lock your car door or pull the key out of the ignition is very much worth avoiding the chaotic aftermath of submitting a claim for a stolen vehicle.

  • Trust Your Instincts

Always park in an area that feels safe. Avoid dimly lit alleys and dark garage corners. If you find a parking space that’s free but in an area that doesn’t feel secure to you, don’t park there.

  • Anti-Theft Devices

Most cars now come equipped with a variety of anti-theft devices. If your vehicle doesn’t have any, consider purchasing some. They can even help you save money on your premium. Some of the more affordable options include VIN etchings, identification markers, microdot marking, and theft deterrent decals. There are also more advanced technologies like smart keys, fuel disablers, and audible alarms to keep your vehicle safe.

Car thefts are decreasing each year thanks to secure technology and preventative measures. Still, if you live in any of these ten cities, you might want to consider upgrading your safety equipment so you can rest assured that your vehicle will be right where you left it. 

Photo credit (top image): Jeff Gunn, Runner310, Maelick