Despite a decrease in the rate of auto thefts, the Valley ranks fourth in the nation for the third straight year, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The metropolitan statistical area that includes Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa had 1,025 auto thefts per 100,000 residents in 2006, a 7 percent decrease from the previous year.
The area was among 361 examined for the annual report, Hot Spots, which was based on data collected by the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
The Las Vegas/Paradise, Nev., area took the top spot for auto thefts in 2006, surpassing the previous year’s leader, Modesto, Calif., which has fallen to fifth.
Bureau officials explained the 2004 data was skewed because the bureau relied on 2000 census data. However, for the last two reports, the bureau has used the most recent available census population estimates to figure their numbers, according to the bureau’s spokesman, Frank Scafidi.
Enrique Cantu, executive director of the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority, said hot spots for auto theft typically are close to international borders and seaports.
“We’re close to both,” Cantu said.
Many stolen vehicles are taken to Mexico and chop shops, where they are stripped for parts to be resold.
Cantu said many cars are more valuable as parts.
“It’s a very lucrative business,” he said.