Drivers who call California home may want to spend more time thinking about how to keep their vehicles secure. The National Insurance Crime Bureau just released a list of the 10 US metropolitan areas with the highest rates of car theft.

Nine of the 10 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) named in the 2013 version of this annual list can be found in the Golden State.

Car Thefts by Metro Area*

Rank Metro Area Thefts Theft Rate*
1 Bakersfield, CA 6,267 725.24
2 Fresno, CA 6,750 706.61
3 Modesto, CA 3,565 678.41
4 Stockton, CA 29,326 649.34
5 Stockton-Lodi, CA 4,463 633.61
6 Redding, CA 1,120 625.77
7 Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA 3,205 598.26
8 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 2,540 597.95
9 San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, CA 10,925 569.12
10 Yuba City, CA 930 551.31

Source: Vehicle theft data from the National Crime Information Center
* Theft rate is the number of car thefts per 100,000 people

Why MSAs?

The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) has vehicle theft data for each of the nation’s MSAs. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) used this information to produce the list above.

If you’re wondering what an MSA is—besides being an acronym for “metropolitan statistical area,” of course—it’s a geographical region that has been defined by the Office of Management and Budget and that is used by the Census Bureau as well as other federal government agencies for statistical purposes

These areas tend to be quite a bit larger than the cities for which they’re named. An example is the MSA named after Fresno, California, which includes more than just the city of Fresno. In fact, many MSAs cover multiple counties.

An Explanation of “Theft Rate”

That the NICB bases its annual “Hot Spot” vehicle theft reports on MSA survey data is worth noting here, by the way, because it often skews the results in various ways.

For example, if an area has a relatively small population but a moderate number of thefts each year, its annual “theft rate” can be higher than that of a larger MSA. This is because the latter sees a much higher number of crime due to their population being better able to absorb the increased theft.

Regardless, if you reside in one of the cities mentioned above, insuring your car is a more important consideration for you than it’s likely to be for most drivers. This is especially if you have one of the  especially if you have one of the 10 most stolen cars in the US.

Overall Vehicle Theft Statistics

Speaking of theft rates, the statistics showcased in the table above represent a slight decrease from the previous year, in the number of vehicle thefts seen nationally.

In fact, aside from the small increase in such activity in 2012, the number of vehicles stolen in the U.S. has trended downward nine out of the last 10 years.

That is consistent with the announcement by the FBI that the number of vehicles stolen in 2013 is nearly back to the level recorded in 1967.

Tips for Keeping Your Car Secure

Despite the overall decrease in this sort of theft, drivers still need to take prudent steps toward securing their vehicles, no matter where they live. Here are some of the ones that are most recommended by the NICB:

Use common sense—The gist of this piece of advice: don’t ignore the basics when it comes to thwarting would-be thieves. So, even if you’re only planning to step away from your vehicle for a few seconds or minutes, make sure you lock your doors, close your windows, and remove your keys from the ignition (and don’t stash spare ones in obvious places).

Install a visible or audible warning device—These can alert you when someone may be trying to steal your car. They also alert thieves that your car has an alarm. A few of the available products that fit into this category: audible alarms; tire deflators; brake, steering wheel, and wheel locks; and window etching.

Add an immobilizing device, too—Some examples of this kind of tech, which work to keep strangers from hot-wiring and driving away with your vehicle: fuse cut-offs, kill switches, smart keys, and other devices that disable its starter and ignition system.

Take advantage of tracking technology—Here, the point is to allow you, as well as law enforcement officials, to remotely monitor and track your car, truck, SUV, or van in the event that it’s stolen or otherwise moved without your knowledge or permission.