Are you paying too much for car insurance? There are two people you can thank for that: Uninsured drivers… and car thieves.

Both types of criminals strongly affect car insurance rates, and cause law-abiding car owners to pay much more in premiums. Your car insurance premium can vary sharply just by changing your Zip Code.

Cities vary widely by car theft incidents. In this article, we’re focusing on the rate of car thefts. That is, the number of car thefts reported per 100,ooo residents.

We have the top 10 worst cities for car thefts per capita. And there is substantial variance even within this group of cities: The incidence in the worst city, Bakersfield, California, is almost twice the incidence in the 10th worst city, Tulsa Oklahoma (905.41 per 100k residents vs. 551.76!)

Here are the top ten worst cities for car theft, in order, courtesy of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

City and car theft rate per 100,000

1. Bakersfield, CA           905.41

2. Yuba City, CA             724.46

3. Denver, CO.                705.80

4. Odessa, TX.                664.28

5. San Francisco, CA     655.20

6. Albuquerque, NM.    631.75

7. Pueblo, CO.                 602.39

8. Billings, MT                564.75

9.  St. Joseph,MO           564.64

10.  Tulsa, OK.                551.76


Moreover, car theft is exploding in some areas: The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual Hot Spots report found that Colorado car thefts rose by a whopping 37% in 2020 compared to 2019 – with Denver and Pueblo leading the way.

David Glawe, President and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, attributes much of the year-over-year increase between 2019 and 2020 to the Pandemic.

But not all of it. Glawe also points is his finger at broader societal changes, as well, including “depleted social and schooling programs,” and “law enforcement realignment.”

He also cites, “in too many cases, owner complacency.”

Mountain communities seem especially prone to car theft, with Denver, Pueblo, and Billings occupying spot in the Top 10 worst cities for car theft, while East Coast cities didn’t crack the Top 10 at all.

Why is Bakersfield so bad?

As bad as these ten cities are when it comes to car theft, Bakersfield stands head and shoulders above the rest, at 905 car thefts per 100,000 people. That means almost 1 in 100 people in Bakersfield get their cars stolen in any given year!

So why is Bakersfield having such trouble with car theft? Several reasons:

1. It’s not a wealthy area. Lots of people drive older cars. These cars are still new enough that they have parts in high demand in the aftermarket. But they don’t have the security features of later model cars. So they are easy and tempting targets for car thieves.

2. There are a high percentage of parolees and ex-convicts in the area per capital compared to other cities.

3. There is also a substantial amount of drug and gang activity in Bakersfield.

4. It’s easy to move hot cars up and down the Central Valley to “chop shops” where rings of crooks strip the stolen cars for parts.

5. California’s soft-on-crime practices have car thieves back out on the street and stealing cars faster than you can say “revolving door.”

California can charge car thieves with a misdemeanor or a felony. And unless they have a record, the misdemeanor cases are getting sentenced to probation, rather than prison, say frustrated locals.

Bakersfield isn’t the only California Central Valley town to crack the Top 10 worst cities for car theft. Yuba City, California, just north of Sacramento, is also in the Car Theft Hall of Shame.

Does Your Insurance Cover Car Theft and Break-Ins?

Lots of people carry liability coverage only. That kind of insurance doesn’t cover loss from car theft or break-ins.

If you would suffer a severe financial hardship if someone steals your car, or someone should break in and steal items out of your car, and you can’t afford to just eat the loss without breaking a sweat, you should consider carrying comprehensive coverage.

Even if you do carry comprehensive coverage, that insurance would only cover “stock” factory-installed parts and gear. If you’ve got a high-end stereo system, added satellite radio, rims, or other customization, a standard car insurance policy won’t cover that, either. You need to account for all the customizations up front, when you buy the policy.

Also, car insurance usually does not cover personal items that get stolen out of your car. Those items are normally handled using renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance policies, rather than car insurance policies.

Most renter’s insurance policies are designed with relatively low deductibles. But you should consider what happens if your MacBook Pro gets stolen from the back of your car and you need it to earn a living? What happens if you have your carpenter’s tools in the back of your truck and someone cracks open your tool container?

You will need to be able to cover your renter’s insurance deductible in order to quickly replace your MacBook or other tools of your trade so you can get back to work.

In addition, you’ll have to repair any damage the thieves did you your car. So at best you’ll need to cover your car insurance deductible at the same time (or drive around with a trash bag covering the window they smashed until you can scrape up the money!

And that’s if you carry comprehensive coverage at all.

Speak to an Independent Car Insurance Professional.

That’s where a professional car insurance expert from an independent (non-captive) insurance agency can help. Our agents are seasoned experts in car insurance and in coordinating coverage between car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and renter’s insurance policies. And unlike a lot of strip mall and call center agents from the Big Name car insurance carriers, our agents aren’t locked in to representing only a single company. Rather Select Insurance Group agents can get you quotes from multiple different carriers. So you know you’re getting the best coverage at the best possible price.

Protect yourself against the risk of car theft and burglary! Contact one of our agents today!

See you on the road!

Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig
CEO, Select Insurance Group

Further Reading

Insurance Considerations for Custom Cars, Exotic Cars, and Antiques

Car Insurance for College Students: What Parents and Students REALLY Need to Know

How To Save Money on Car Insurance: A Guide to Insurance Discounts