Metropolitan areas in California dominated the top of the automobile theft rate list last year, a non-profit anti-crime group says.
The top three Metropolitan Statistical Areas with the highest vehicle theft rates in 2011 were California's Fresno, Modesto and Bakersfield-Delano metro areas, the National Insurance Crime Bureau said. The rest of the Top 10 were: Spokane, Wash.; Yakima, Wash.; San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, Calif.; Stockton, Calif.; Anderson, S.C.; Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.; and Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
The bureau reported preliminary numbers for 2011 were on track for another consecutive year of declining vehicle thefts. Four of the Top 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas reported more thefts in 2011 -- 925 collectively -- while the remaining six posted fewer -- 2,017 fewer thefts collectively.
Metropolitan Statistical Areas are designated by the federal government's Office of Management and Budget, and often include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, the Fresno Metropolitan Statistical Area includes all thefts within the entire county of Fresno, not just the city of Fresno.
The report is based on vehicle thefts on a per-capita basis. An area with a much smaller population and a moderate number of thefts can -- and often does -- have a higher theft rate than an area with a much more significant vehicle theft problem and a larger population, officials of theÂ National Insurance Crime Bureau said.
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