San Francisco and Oakland led the nation in car thefts per capita in 2014. California had seven areas in the top 10.

The Golden State is the land of golden opportunities for car thieves as California was home to seven of the top 10 areas for vehicle theft in 2014, according to a recent report.

More cars were stolen from San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area per capita than any other area in the country: a combined 29,093 stolen cars in 2014, or 633.3 thefts per 100,000 people.

California took the top three spots in the country, said the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) annual “Hot Spots” report. In fact, California had 15 of the 30 cities on the report. In one sense, California sitting atop the list isn’t entirely surprising: it has the most cars. Combine that with the climate, which helps cars remain in better condition, and it adds to the equation.

San-Francisco-Oakland moved up to the top spot after placing fourth in the 2013 report displacing Bakersfield, California, which moved down just one spot to second place. The Stockton-Lodi, California area was third.

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While many would look to large cities to dominate the list, the NICB notes that isn’t the case. Areas with smaller populations and a “moderate number of thefts” often have a higher rate of vehicles stolen.

The rest of the top 10:

  • Odessa, Texas
  • Modesto, California
  • Spokane-Spokane Valley, Washington
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, California
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
  • Fresno, California
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California

“Although vehicle thefts are down dramatically around the nation, the reasons they are stolen remain the same,” the organization said. “Older vehicles are stolen primarily for their parts value while newer, high-end vehicles often are shipped overseas or, after some disguising, sold to an innocent buyer locally.”

Additionally, other vehicles are stolen just for joyriding. Those vehicles are often found later abandoned, but with minimal damage.

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The NICB said it’s important to be proactive when it comes to car theft. They offer up their four “layers of protection” guard against thieves. First is common sense: Don’t leave keys in the car; lock the doors and roll up the windows; and park in a well-lit area.

The next layer is having a warning device, including audible alarms, steering column collars, steering wheel/brake pedal locks, brake locks, wheel locks, theft deterrent decals, VIN etching and micro dot marking.

The third layer is an immobilizing device. This prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring your car. These include smart keys, fuse cut-offs, kill switches, wireless ignition authentication, and starter, ignition or fuel pump disablers.

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Finally, the last line of defense is a tracking device that emits a signal once activated. The signal can be tracked by police or a monitoring station. Some vehicles employ telematics systems that combine GPS and wireless technologies that will inform the owner that the car is being moved and allow it to be tracked on a computer.

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