Car theft skyrocketed last year, with the highest rate of stolen cars occurring largely in the western U.S.
According to data compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), California had the highest number of reported car thefts last year at nearly 188,000 vehicles, followed by Texas at around 94,000 and Florida with 45,000.
Theft rates were highest in Washington, D.C., Colorado, California, Missouri, and New Mexico.
Bakersfield and Yuba City in California took the lead among metro areas, followed by Denver, Odessa, Texas, and San Francisco.
Car thefts rose at the highest rate in Colorado, driven by a huge spike in the Denver area. Overall, around 29,000 cars were reported stolen in the Centennial State, an increase of around 8,000 vehicles over the previous year’s total.
Some silver linings appear, though. A few states and Puerto Rico saw a decline in car thefts. Puerto Rico saw a drop of nearly 1,900 thefts in 2020 compared to 2019, while 1,500 or so fewer cars were stolen in Florida. Other states seeing relatively large drops included Georgia, Alabama, and Nevada.
The NICB recommends ensuring car doors are always locked and suggests installing preventive measures ranging from steering wheel and column locks to more advanced alarm systems.
Car shoppers can also search the NICB’s database with a car’s vehicle identification number to see if it has been reported as stolen. When buying a used car from a private party, be sure to confirm the title and the VIN on the vehicle match one another and that the title is in the name of the person actually selling the car.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.