BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The National Insurance Crime Bureau says more than 800,000 vehicles were stolen in the U.S. last year alone. California Highway Patrol says Bakersfield has some of the highest rates of car theft in the nation, surpassing every other city in the county in 2019. Police say those numbers are only going up this year. Bakersfield resident Nichole Hobson watched a thief drive away with her boyfriend’s pickup truck on Mar. 7 just after 6 am. She says it happened faster than an oil change.
“An individual drove down our street in a red truck, got out of the vehicle and walked up to my boyfriend’s truck,” said Hobson. “And it was like he had a key. He opened the door with no problem. He takes off and he’s gone for three to five minutes.”
Police say they recovered the red truck the thief left behind, which was also stolen.
Law enforcement hasn’t released any information about the car thief or Hobson’s vehicle.
The theft pierced Hobson’s pocketbook, while police struggle to solve the crime.
“We called at what…6:37 in the morning? They didn’t show up until 11:30 at night,” said Hobson. “Now we have to go purchase a truck, we’re gonna have another car payment. That truck was paid off. If they do find the truck, we responsible for all the fees behind it.”
Experts say Hobson isn’t alone.
“In approximately a week we’ll see 100 to 120 vehicles stolen in the city of Bakersfield,” said Sgt. Robert Pair, Public Information Officer for the Bakersfield Police Department.
Police say most car thefts are crimes of opportunity, so vigilance can keep your vehicle safe.
“Things like steering locking control devices, alarm systems, parking in a garage, parking in well-lit and well-traveled areas,” said Sgt. Pair. “They may not be a guarantee of preventing theft, but they can minimize those opportunities that thieves are looking for.”
Police say they’re still trying to recover Hobson’s stolen vehicle, and no arrests have been made in this case. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises vehicle owners to ensure you never leave your keys in the ignition, and store valuables away from your vehicle. Locking doors and windows can further protect your car. NHTSA says thieves commonly target Honda Civics, Honda Accords and Chevy Silverados. For more safety tips and information about car theft, visit NHTSA’s website.