Three cities in San Diego County -- including the region's namesake municipality -- were among the nation's top 10 centers of auto theft in 2008, a nonprofit insurance industry agency reported today.
San Diego, Carlsbad and San Marcos together came in at No. 4 in the National Insurance Crime Bureau's "Hot Spots" list of U.S. vehicle-theft trends.
Though high on the roster of problem areas, the three cities dropped from the third-place spot they shared in 2007, according to the NICB.
Overall, California communities claimed six of the 10 spots on the 2008 list, despite a fifth straight year of decreasing auto thefts nationwide.
The insurance agency blames border-area drug and gang crime for the negative car-theft trend in the Golden State and other regions that abut Mexico.
Following are the top 10 "metropolitan statistical areas" in the NICB's 2008 vehicle-theft ranking:
2) Laredo, Texas;
3) Yakima, Wash.;
4) San Diego/Carlsbad/San Marcos;
7) Las Vegas/Paradise, Nev.;
8) Albuquerque, N.M.;
9) San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont; and
The NICB advises car owners to avoid becoming victims of auto theft through "common-sense measures." Namely, never leave keys in a vehicle with the engine running, hide a spare key in the car, leave the windows or doors unlocked, store valuables inside or park in dark, out-of-the way areas.
The agency also recommends the use of such theft-prevention devices as alarms, steering-wheel locks, engine immobilizers and tracking-and-recovery equipment like the popular LoJack systems.
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