BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — We’ve reported that certain violent crimes, including homicide, are up substantially from previous years, owing in large part to the pandemic. Well, add this to the list of rising crime: Auto theft. After two straight years of decline – a mere 180,000 cars and trucks were reported stolen in California in 2020 – auto theft is up everywhere across the country in 2021. The increase has been drastic in some places, including 48% in Los Angeles.

Things are no different in Bakersfield. Considering we were third in the nation in stolen cars per capita as recently as 2019, behind only Albuquerque and Anchorage, Alaska, perhaps it was inevitable that the problem would hit Bakersfield, too. 

The Bakersfield Police Department reports a 29% increase in stolen vehicles reported in 2021 over 2020, based on comparable January to November samples. Part of the reason, Sgt. Robert Pair says, is the nature of the area.

“The vehicles that we have in our county, because of socioeconomics, are frequently not the brand-new models,” Pair said. “That’s not to say that those thefts don’t exist, but where you see these large numbers is in early 2000s, late ‘90s vehicles, that don’t have the security systems.”

The projected total number of stolen cars for Bakersfield in 2021 is 4,757, or just under 400 a month. U.S. manufactured pickup trucks and Japanese-made cars like Toyotas and Hondas are among the most frequently stolen, year in and year out.

The good news is, California is among the most efficient states at recovering stolen vehicles, about 89%.

The lesson: Remember to activate your anti-theft device, lock your car, garage it if possible, and keep personal items out of sight.