By James B. Kelleher
CHICAGO (Reuters) - California is the car theft capital of the United States, according to a new analysis of crime statistics released on Tuesday.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau, a Chicago-based industry trade group, said that eight of the 10 cities with the highest per capita vehicle theft rates last year were located in California, including Sacramento, the state capital, and San Francisco, one of the state's most popular tourist destinations.
Other California cities on the worst 10 list included Fresno, Modesto, Bakersfield, Vallejo, Stockton and Visalia.
Busy car thieves in Washington state put Spokane and Yakima on the NICB's list of 10 worst cities for thefts, which was compiled by taking the number of reported vehicle thefts in a metropolitan statistical area, dividing that by the area's estimated population and then multiplying that by 100,000.
Of the 367 U.S. metropolitan areas the NICB ranked, the safest for car owners was State College, Pennsylvania, with fewer than 0.3 vehicle thefts per 1,000 residents.
Fresno, California was the worst in the nation, with about 8.1 vehicle thefts per 1,000 residents.
Preliminary crime statistics for 2010 published last month by the FBI showed a 7.2 percent drop in vehicle thefts from the previous year.
The complete NICB report is available online at https://www.nicb.org/newsroom/nicb_campaigns/hot_spots/Hot-Spots-2010
(Reporting by James B. Kelleher)