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Kenton Brine, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director     
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (206) 624-3330/(800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975

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Spokane drops out of top 10 list for highest auto theft rates in nation for first time in five years
  • Number of vehicles stolen in Washington down eight percent statewide
  • Owners of vehicles stolen are on the hook without Comprehensive Insurance Coverage
  • Drivers are recommended to follow the “four layers of protection” to guard against vehicle theft

SEATTLE – For the first time in five years, Spokane is no longer on the top 10 list for highest auto theft rates in the nation, dropping to 25th last year from 6th in 2014, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) recent annual Hot Spots Report. The report also shows auto theft is down by eight percent statewide.

Two Washington metropolitan areas that made the national top 10 list for highest vehicle theft rates in 2014 experienced significant drops in auto thefts last year. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area went from 8th place in 2014 to 20th place in 2015, with a 16 percent decrease in auto thefts last year.  The auto theft rate in Spokane dropped 21 percent, with 2,430 vehicles stolen last year compared to 3,032 in 2014.  

Auto theft may be down this year but it continues to be a widespread and costly crime. The NW Insurance Council offers a strong reminder to consider optional Comprehensive or Other than Collision Coverage, which covers the cost of replacing your vehicle if it is stolen. Comprehensive Coverage, also known as Other than Collision Coverage, pays for vehicle damage not caused by a collision, depreciation and normal wear and tear. Examples of what is covered include auto theft, fire, hail, windstorm, flooding and glass breakage.

“Vehicle owners continue to pay billions of dollars each year for auto theft,” said Kenton Brine, NW Insurance Council president. “Because the cost to replace stolen vehicles and repair those that are recovered is reflected in insurance rates, stopping auto theft is important to all of us.”

Vehicle theft is the nation’s number-one property crime, costing an estimated $4.1 billion in 2013, according to the FBI.  In 2015, 31,305 vehicles were reported stolen in Washington. That’s an average of 86 stolen vehicles per day and nearly four vehicles stolen each hour.

Brine recommended drivers employ the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s “Four Layers of Protection” to guard against auto theft. “The more layers a driver can employ, the less chance his or her vehicle will be targeted by car thieves,” Brine said. The protections include common sense measures like locking your car, adding warning devices like light and sound auto alarm systems, adding an immobilizing device such as a fuse cut-off or kill switch, or using an onboard tracking device.

Here are the Washington cities with the highest theft rates and how they compare to one year ago (percentages rounded): 

  1. Yakima: 1,170 Thefts, 470.2 Theft Rate, -1% Theft Rate Change
  2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue: 17,221 Thefts, 461.25 Theft Rate, -16% Theft Rate Change
  3. Spokane-Spokane Valley : 2,430 Thefts, 443.57 Theft Rate, +21% Theft Rate Change
  4. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro 7,797 Thefts, 326.34 Theft Rate, +10% Theft Rate Change
  5. Longview: 271 Thefts, 261.92 Theft Rate, -1% Theft Rate Change
  6. Olympia-Tumwater: 651 Thefts, 241.53 Theft Rate, 23% Theft Rate Change
  7. Mount Vernon-Anacortes : 259 Thefts, 212.56 Theft Rate, -1% Theft Rate Change
  8. Walla Walla : 122 Thefts, 189.79 Theft Rate, +4% Theft Rate Change
  9. Wenatchee: 162 Thefts, 139.44 Theft Rate, +7% Theft Rate Change
  10. Bellingham : 285 Thefts 134.25 Theft Rate, +16% Theft Rate Change

*The theft rate is based on the number of thefts per 100,000 inhabitants using U.S. Census data.

How to Help Stop Auto Theft & Insurance Fraud
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 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).

For more information about the Hot Spots Report and insurance fraud, visit National Insurance Crime Bureau and 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.