Port cities, border towns worst for auto theft
Nine of the top 10 cities that led the nation in auto theft in 2002 were either
seaports or cities that lay along the Mexican or Canadian borders, according to
the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
For the second consecutive year, the Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona, area
had the highest vehicle theft rate in the nation, followed closely by three
cities in northern California.
Most of the auto-theft capitals were in the West. In fact, 19
of the top 25 auto-theft centers lie west of the Mississippi River and nine
are in California, where vehicle theft has surged, growing from 182,000 in 2000
to 210,000 in 2001, and more than 227,000 in 2002.
Many stolen cars are smuggled out of the country by ship and sold
overseas. The autos can be put in trucking containers or even brought onboard
ship just minutes before it sails, said Lt. Greg Terp, commander of the Miami-Dade
Multi-Agency Auto Theft Task Force.
Miami, the only Eastern city on the top 10 metropolitan areas
on NICB's list, has started using a gamma-ray device to quickly inspect container
cargos coming into the port for concealed autos, he said, and in the last year
Miami has dropped from second to sixth.
Theft rates in several other cities declined. Detroit declined
from fourth in 2001 to 11th in 2002; Tucson dropped from sixth in 2001 to 13
in 2002; and Jersey City, N.J., fell from 10th in 2001 to 23rd in 2002.
The 10 worst auto theft capitals of America, according to the NICB, are:
1. Phoenix, Ariz.
2. Fresno, Calif.
3. Modesto, Calif.
4. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.
5. Las Vegas, Nev.
6. Miami, Fla.
7. Sacramento, Calif.
8. Oakland, Calif.
9. Seattle, Wash.
10. Tacoma, Wash.
The five safest metropolitan areas in the U.S., or its territories,
by the way, are Williamsport, Pa.; Glens Falls, N.Y.; Mayaguez, Puerto Rico;
Elmira, N.Y.; and State College, Pa., ranking 332 to 336, respectively.
For a listing of the vehicle theft rates in all 336 metro
areas of the U.S., click
Rod Gibson is a freelance writer based
-- Posted: Sept. 23, 2003