It’s not surprising that the National Insurance Crime Bureau ranks California as the car theft capital of the United States, according to Sam Sorich, president of the Association of California Insurance Companies.
California, after all, is the nation’s most populous state and also has the largest number of registered vehicles.
The latest figures from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) ranks cities based on the number of auto thefts per 100,000 inhabitants. Seven of the top ten cities ranked by NICB are in California — Modesto, Stockton-Lodi, Sacramento, Oakland, Visalia-Tulare-Porterville, San Diego and Fresno.
Sorich noted that insurers play a vital role in combating vehicle thefts. Insurance companies have staffs that are dedicated to investigating theft claims. And, insurers provide, through special assessments, the state of California millions of dollars each year in the fight against fraud and auto thefts.
“Our association is considering this issue to see if more can be done, perhaps through legislation. In addition to increasing insurance costs, auto thefts are serious legal offenses that can lead to more violent crimes,” said Sorich.
California is particularly appealing to car thieves, Sorich noted, because it borders Mexico and the state has numerous sea ports. These locations are often used for sending stolen vehicles out of the country.
In addition, California cars tend to be in relatively good condition because of the milder climate. And, in some areas of the state, there is an unusually large number of expensive vehicles – always a prime target for thieves.
Another factor is street racing, a continuing trend in many California communities that can attract car thieves who are after expensive, fast cars or their racing components.
Pending before the state Legislature this year is a bill, AB 1325 by Assemblyman Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), which would increase the minimum penalty for street racers from one to five years. The Assembly-passed bill is awaiting action in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“This bill, supported by ACIC, is a step in the right direction. We will continue to look for other actions that will help authorities crack down on auto thefts in California,” said Sorich.
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