A bit of good and bad news in latest reports on auto theft and staged auto accidents from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). First the good: the NICB says 2009 marked the sixth consecutive year of declining vehicle thefts in the United States.

For 2009, the 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) with the highest vehicle theft rates are: Laredo, TX; Modesto, CA; Bakersfield, CA; Stockton, CA; Fresno, CA; Yakima, WA; San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, CA; Visalia/Porterville, CA; Las Vegas/Paradise, NV; and Albuquerque, NM.

Some 83 percent of the 366 MSAs within the U.S. reported lower thefts than they experienced in 2008 and once the final figures for 2009 are available vehicle theft may drop as much as 19 percent on 2008, according to NICB.

Now for the bad news: staged accidents. The NICB says so-called staged accident questionable claims (QCs) increased 46 percent from 2007 through 2009. The ratio of staged accident QCs to overall bodily injury (BI) and personal injury protection (PIP) claims also increased over this period.

The five cities that generated the most staged accident QCs were: New York City – 1,304; Tampa – 562; Miami – 511; Orlando – 422; and Houston – 376.  Notice that Florida and New York, which are no-fault (or PIP) states, dominate the top loss locations.

NICB has created a series of videos demonstrating some of the most common types of staged accidents, available here. Check out further I.I.I. information on auto theft and no-fault auto insurance.