Car theft: We’re No. 8

And that’s not No. 8 in a good way. The Bremerton-Silverdale area ranks in that spot for most car thefts among areas in the state.

But that’s much lower than the state’s No. 1 spot for car theft — Spokane — an area ranked fourth in the nation overall for the crime.

Here’s the release from the NW Insurance Council. Be sure to note the tips below to help you safeguard your own vehicle.

Washington continues to be a hotbed for auto thieves with a 9.8 percent jump in auto thefts last year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual Hot Spots Report released today.

Spokane ranked fourth-highest in the nation for auto theft rates, up from 18th in 2009.  The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area jumped to 13th from 37th and leads the state with more than 55 percent of all auto thefts, increasing 18.8 percent since 2009.  Yakima remains in the top ten, falling from sixth in 2009 to tenth last year.

In 2010, 29,298 vehicles were reported stolen in Washington, a 9.8 percent increase from 26,684 in 2009.  That’s an average of 80 stolen vehicles per day and more than three vehicles per hour.

Auto theft is a costly crime that vehicle owners pay for through their insurance premiums.  In 2009, auto theft cost more than $170 million in Washington.

“Consumers in America 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. That makes stopping auto theft important to all of us.”

Vehicle theft is the nation’s number-one property crime, costing an estimated $5.2 billion in 2009, according to the FBI.  The average value of a motor vehicle reported stolen in 2009 was $6,505.

Here are the Washington cities with the highest theft rates:

1.     Spokane                                  2,763                           586.35
2.     Yakima                                   1,266                           520.49
3.     Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue       16,192                         470.72
4.     Portland-Vancouver-Hillsb.   6,860                           308.17
5.     Longview                                293                              286.10
6.     Olympia                                  468                              185.52
7.     Mount Vernon-Anacortes      202                              172.80
8.     Bremerton-Silverdale             396                              157.69
9.     Kennewick-Pasco-Richland   392                              154.73
10.  Wenatchee-E. Wenatchee      153                              137.98
*The theft rate is based on the number of thefts per 100,000 inhabitants using 2009 U.S. Census data.

Here are Washington’s most stolen vehicles, according to NICB statistics:
1.     1992 Honda Accord
2.     1995 Honda Civic
3.     1990 Toyota Camry
4.     1995 Acura Integra
5.     1993 Subaru Legacy
6.     1994 Nissan Sentra
7.     1993 Dodge Caravan
8.     1994 Saturn SL
9.     1994 Ford Explorer
10.  1995 Nissan Pathfinder

NW Insurance Council offers the following tips to help you reduce the risk of your vehicle 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 theft.

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 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 a fraud award up to $5,000 offered by NW Insurance Council.  Call the Fraud Hotline at 800-TEL-NICB.  For more information about the Hot Spots Report  and insurance fraud, call (800) 664-4942 or visit NW Insurance Council.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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