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Auto thefts plummet in New York metro area despite national rise

Security consultants Don Bailey, left, and Mathew Solnik

Security consultants Don Bailey, left, and Mathew Solnik of iSEC Partners, demonstrate with a computer how they force cars with certain alarm systems to unlock their doors and start their engines by sending them text messages in San Francisco. (Aug. 16, 2011) (Credit: AP)

If you live on Long Island, there’s no need to splurge an a spiffy anti-theft alarm system for your car. Auto thefts are declining in the New York-metropolitan area, according to a report released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, even as they rise nationally.

In 2012, there were an estimated 26,311 auto thefts in the New York-Newark-Jersey City statistical area, which also includes Long Island. That translates into about 133 per 100,000 people, down 13.4 percent from the 2011 rate, and 14.1 percent from 2010. In each of the previous two years there were more than 29,100 auto thefts in the region.

Overall the region posted the 220th highest rate of auto thefts of the 380 markets measured. That’s down from two years during which the area ranked in the 190s. The 13.4 percent reduction was the 94th largest.

The trend is a reversal of the national one, which saw a 1.3 percent increase in auto thefts, the first rise in eight years. That’s largely because of the country’s Western states, which experienced a 10.6 percent increase in vehicle thefts. The Midwest, Northeast and South all posted significant reductions.

Eight of the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest auto theft rate were located in California, led by the Modesto region where there were approximately 817 thefts per 100,000 people. The elevated theft rate is likely due to a combination of the large number of car owners in California and drastic budget cuts in many counties that have significantly reduced police force, a Bloomberg News report suggested.

The NICB's numbers are preliminary estimates. The FBI releases more detailed data in the fall. 

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