Seattle, Yakima, Spokane, Eugene Rank in Nation's Top 50 For Auto Theft; More Than 37,400 Vehicles Stolen Across Northwest
The Northwest continues to be a hotbed for auto thieves as several cities rank high in the nation despite an overall 14.9-percent drop in theft rates last year.
Oregon saw the largest dip as car thefts dropped 14 percent from 2008.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau's annual Hot Spots Report, Yakima, WA, topped all Northwest cities with the sixth-highest auto theft rate in the nation. Spokane, WA, ranked 18th, followed by the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area at 26th. Eugene ranked 46th, the Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton metro area ranked 77th and Salem ranked 84th.
Last year, 37,427 vehicles were reported stolen across all three states, an average of 103 vehicles per day and more than four vehicles an hour.
While the decrease in thefts is encouraging for drivers, auto theft is still a costly crime vehicle owners pay for through their insurance premiums.
Vehicle theft is the nation's number-one property crime, costing an estimated $6.4 billion in 2008, according to the FBI. The average value of a motor vehicle reported stolen in 2008 was $6,751.
"Consumers literally pay billions each year for auto theft," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "The cost to replace stolen vehicles and repair those that are recovered is reflected in your insurance rates."
Washington ranked highest among the Northwest states with 26,684 stolen vehicles, a 15.8 percent drop from 31,681 in 2008.
In Oregon, 9,727 vehicles were stolen last year, an 14-percent drop from 2008 figures when thieves stole 11,325 vehicles.
Idaho reported 1,016 stolen vehicles in 2009, a 1.2-percent increase from 1,004 stolen vehicles in 2008.
Is your car next? NW Insurance Council and NICB offer the following tips to help you reduce the risk of your vehicle from being stolen:
- Keep your doors locked and windows completely rolled up.
- Remove keys from the ignition, even when briefly stepping away from your car.
- Keep valuable items such as bags, purses, cell phones and briefcases out of sight.
- Always park your vehicle in well-lit areas.
- Always activate your vehicle's security or alarm system when parked.
- Before buying a new vehicle, check with your insurance company to find out which vehicles have the highest risk of being stolen.
If you witness or have knowledge of an auto theft, contact your local law enforcement agency. In some cases, auto theft is a form of insurance fraud when automobile owners stage phony accidents or arrange to have their vehicles stolen with hopes of collecting the insurance money.
If you know of anyone who has filed a false insurance claim, you may be eligible for up to $5,000 in reward money offered by NW Insurance Council. Call the Fraud Hotline at 800-TEL-NICB.
For more information about NICB's Hot Spots Report and insurance fraud, visit NW Insurance Council.