Washington Auto Theft Rates High: Spokane 4th in the nation, Yakima jumps to 5th, Seattle rises to 12th place
SEATTLE – Washington continues to be a hotbed for auto thieves in spite of a slight 1.6 percent overall decline in the number of auto thefts last year, as both Yakima and Seattle rose higher in the national theft-rate rankings, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual Hot Spots Report released this week.
Spokane ranked fourth-highest in the nation for auto theft rates again this year, while Yakima jumped five places from tenth to fifth. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area jumped to 12th from 13th and leads the state with 54 percent of all auto thefts, increasing nearly 18 percent since 2009.
In 2011, 28,833 vehicles were reported stolen in Washington, a 1.6 percent decline from 29,298 in 2009, but still up 8 percent from 2009 totals. That’s an average of 79 stolen vehicles per day and more than three vehicles stolen each hour.
“American consumers continue to pay billions of dollars each year for auto theft,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “That's because the cost to replace stolen vehicles and repair those that are recovered is reflected in our insurance rates – so stopping auto theft is definitely important to all of us.”
In 2009, auto theft cost more than $170 million in Washington. 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:
City Thefts Theft Rate*
- Mount Vernon-Anacortes
- Wenatchee-East Wenatchee
*The theft rate is based on number of thefts per 100,000 inhabitants using U.S. Census data.
“Anti-theft technology in newer vehicles is helping to bring auto theft down across the country,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president, “There also are a number of proactive steps you can take to protect your vehicle from thieves.”
NICB and the NW Insurance Council recommend that drivers follow NICB's “four layers of protection” to guard against vehicle theft:
1) Common Sense
- Remove your keys from the ignition
- Lock your doors /close your windows
- Park in a well-lit area
· Keep valuable items such as bags, purses, cell phones and briefcases out of sight.
2) A Warning Device
Popular devices include:
- Audible alarms
- Steering column collars
- Steering wheel/brake pedal lock
- Brake locks
- Wheel locks
- Theft deterrent decals
- Identification markers in or on vehicle
- VIN etching
- Micro dot marking
3) An Immobilizing Device
Use a device that prevents thieves from bypassing your ignition and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some examples are:
- Smart keys
- Fuse cut-offs
- Kill switches
- Starter, ignition, and fuel pump disablers
- Wireless ignition authentication
4) A Tracking Device
The final layer of protection is a tracking device which emits a signal to police or a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.
How to Help Stop Auto Theft & Insurance Fraud
If you witness or have knowledge of an auto theft, you can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422) or by texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411).
In some cases, auto theft is a form of insurance fraud when vehicle 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 Auto Theft & Fraud Hotline at 1-800-TEL-NICB to report it.
For more information about the Hot Spots Report and insurance fraud, visit National Insurance Crime Bureau or NW Insurance Council.
NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
National Insurance Crime Bureau is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness.