Top 10 Hot Spots for auto thefts
5. Yakima, Wash.
6. San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward
7. San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara
9. Spokane, Wash.
Stanislaus County is once again laying claim to a title most residents would prefer to leave in their rearview mirror.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau released its annual "Hot Spots" vehicle theft report and Stanislaus County found itself in the top position.
NICB's "Hot Spots" report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation's Metropolitan Statistical Areas. MSAs often include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, the Modesto MSA includes all thefts within the entire county of Stanislaus, not just the city of Modesto.
In 2012 Stanislaus County saw a 29 percent increase in auto thefts from 2011, when the county was ranked second in the nation for auto thefts.
Stanislaus County has 4,260 reported auto thefts in 2012, giving the county a rate of 817 vehicles per 100,000 people, according to the NICB data.
California had eight cities in the top 10 list for auto thefts. The West region, defined by the FBI as the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming saw a 10.6 percent increase in vehicle thefts from 2011. The other regions of the country - Midwest, Northeast and South-reported reductions of 3.1, 7.9 and 2.9 percent, respectively.
The 2012 rates ended an eight-year streak of declining auto theft rates in the United States, the NICB reported.
Budget cuts, which have reduced staffing levels at police departments throughout the county, have had an impact in the resources available to stifle auto thefts.
In 2010, Turlock had 470 auto thefts. In 2011, the total fell to 355, for a 24 percent drop. In 2012, the number of auto thefts rose to 511 for a 31 percent increase, according to the Turlock Police Department's annual report.
The TPD reviews crime statistics to identify areas that could be seeing an influx of auto thefts and increases patrols in those areas, said Turlock Police spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis. Additionally, officers make extra patrols in residential neighborhoods during the evening hours when more auto thefts occur.
To help prevent auto theft, the TPD recommends the following steps:
• Don't leave your car unlocked.
• Don't leave your keys in the car.
• Don't leave your car unattended with the motor running.
• Don't leave valuables in view.
• Don't leave your vehicle's title (pink slip) inside.
• Park in a garage or driveway.
• When parking on the street consider parking under a street light.
• Report suspicious activity (such as vehicles driving at night without lights on, vehicles which are not known in the neighborhood, suspicious subjects looking in to parked vehicles).
• Consider starting a Neighborhood Watch program.