Vehicle theft rankings up in 7 SC areas last year

Published: Apr. 13, 2009 at 2:51 PM EDT|Updated: May. 5, 2009 at 1:02 PM EDT
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From the South Carolina Insurance News Service:

COLUMBIA, SC - Myrtle Beach holds the top spot in South Carolina for vehicle thefts, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau's annual report.

Seven out of ten metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, around South Carolina saw their vehicle theft rankings increase in 2008.

According to the report, Hot Spots, on auto theft rates, Myrtle Beach continues to hold the No. 1 spot in vehicle theft in the state and across the Southeast. The NICB and local law enforcement officials attribute the high theft rate in Myrtle Beach to its proximity to the state line, high rate of tourism and popular large events. Anderson moved to the No. 2 position in the state and Sumter jumped into third place from ranking eighth in 2007.

While preliminary data from the FBI shows a 12.6 percent decrease in vehicle theft nationally, South Carolina fares worse with the number of vehicles stolen remaining steady and several areas seeing increases in vehicle theft.

2008 Ranking MSA Name US Ranking
1 Myrtle Beach - Conway - North Myrtle Beach 15
2 Anderson 29
3 Sumter 34
4 Columbia 37
5 Charlotte - Gastonia - Concord, NC (including York County, SC) 50
6 Augusta - Richmond County, GA (including Aiken and Edgefield Counties, SC) 56
7 Greenville 65
8 Spartanburg 71
9 Florence 73
10 Charleston - North Charleston 102

Vehicle theft costs car owners and insurance companies more than $7 billion each year according to the Insurance Information Institute. Auto theft is covered under the comprehensive section of an auto insurance policy. Premium rates for comprehensive insurance are affected by the likelihood that an insured car will be stolen or damaged and the car's value at the time of the loss.

Rank 2008 2008 2007 2007 2006 2006
2008 2007 2006 Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Thefts Rate Thefts Rate Thefts Rate
15 23 20 Myrtle Beach - Conway - North Myrtle Beach 1,586 616.21 1,545 618.72 1,668 696.46
29 42 54 Anderson 942 515.25 928 515.66 854 482.6
34 88 145 Sumter 506 485.85 403 387.47 314 301.63
37 81 83 Columbia 3,406 467.82 2,879 402.28 2,925 416.12
50 38 29 Charlotte - Gastonia - Concord, NC (including York County, SC) 7,542 443.18 8,600 522.34 9,401 594.97
56 55 76 Augusta - Richmond County, GA - (including Aiken and Edgefield Counties, SC) 2,212 414.06 2,385 451.44 2,266 434.04
65 75 95 Greenville 2,462 394.1 2,515 410.57 2,396 399.66
71 64 90 Spartanburg 1,060 377.58 1,187 431.19 1,111 412.17
73 98 123 Florence 734 367.31 710 357.62 685 346.66
102 132 119 Charleston - North Charleston 1,991 308.92 1,890 299.79 2,083 337.8

NICB's Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center for each of the nation's MSAs. The vehicle theft rate is determined by the number of vehicle theft offenses per 100,000 inhabitants according to the 2008 U.S. Census Population Estimates, the most current figures available. (MSAs are designated by the Office of Management and Budget and often include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, the Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC MSA is defined as four counties in Georgia and Aiken and Edgefield Counties in South Carolina.)

The South Carolina Insurance News Service and NICB recommend five steps for protecting your vehicle:

  1. Car buyers should consider a vehicle's theft rate before purchasing a new car. Ask your insurance agent or company for information, or link to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's latest ratings at to view your vehicle's theft loss information.
  2. Use common sense - Lock your doors, remove the keys and park in well-lit, public areas.
  3. Utilize visible and audible devices such as alarms or steering wheel locks. Also make sure your vehicle identification number (VIN) is etched on your vehicle. Other devices are brake locks, wheel locks, tire locks/tire deflators, theft deterrent decals and micro dot marking.
  4. Use immobilizing devices like cut-off switches and fuel disablers. Some electronic devices have computer chips in ignition keys.
  5. Purchase tracking devices which emit a signal to police when the vehicle is reported stolen.

The Modesto, CA MSA has a higher theft rate than any other city in the United States. Six of the top ten areas with the highest vehicle theft rates are in California and all ten are in the western states.

For the list of the most commonly stolen vehicles by model in South Carolina, link to the South Carolina Insurance News Service web site or call 803-252-3455.

Anyone with information concerning auto theft can report it anonymously by calling 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). For the full NICB auto theft study, visit