Springfield ranks fifth in state on stolen car list

The Springfield metropolitan area had the fifth-highest rate of vehicle thefts per capita in Ohio in 2013, according to an insurance industry study.

The area had 251 vehicles stolen, which works out to 184 vehicles per 100,000 residents, according to a study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

In 2010, 322 cars were stolen in the Springfield metropolitan area, a rate of approximately 232 cars per 100,000 people. The number of stolen cars dropped in both 2011 (246) and 2012 (229), but increased in 2013 (251).

One hundred forty cars were stolen outside the city limits last year, down from 148 in 2012, a 5.4-percent decrease, according to crime statistics from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

One of the main factors in cars being stolen is people leaving their keys in their vehicles, said Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly. He recently spoke with the Clark County Farm Bureau about increasing awareness about people removing keys from vehicles at their homes.

“You’ve got to lock your car, all the time, everywhere,” Kelly said.

Thieves aren’t going after new vehicles. The most popular vehicle to steal in Ohio in 2013 was a 1994 Chevrolet pick-up trucks (full size), second was the 2000 Dodge Caravan and third was a 1997 Ford pick-ups (full size).

Cars made prior to 1998 are a lot easier to steal than newer cars, said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the NICB.

“Overall, across the nation, it’s a downward trend. Auto theft is now about half the problem it was several years ago. Technology has been a game-changer in keeping vehicles from being stolen,” Scafidi said.

Additions like OnStar and LoJack monitoring services can track a vehicle if a criminal decides to drive off with it, and apps like “Anti-Theft Car Alarm” will send you an email if your vehicle is moved and give you the vehicle’s location. Kill switches and car alarms are also helpful, Scafidi said.

“We’ve all seen the movies where the A-Team hot wires a car,” Kelly said. “You can’t really do that today. … Once they’re locked, they’re really locked.”

In Dayton, 1,650 vehicles were stolen last year, which works out to about 206 vehicles per 100,000 residents.

Cleveland had the most thefts per population in the state. By comparison, Columbus ranked fourth and Cincinnati was seventh.

The top six hot spots for auto thefts in the U.S. were all located in California, with No. 1 being the Bakersfield area, which had 725 vehicles stolen per 100,000 residents in 2013, according to the report.

NICB has been compiling the annual hot spot reports from National Crime Information Center data since 1984.