Anchorage shatters city record for most cars stolen in a single year

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - In 2017, Anchorage shattered the city record for most vehicles reported stolen in a single year. New statistics provided by the Anchorage Police Department show the city far surpassed the previous record, set in 1994, and saw a 50 percent increase in car thefts in 2017 compared to the previous year.

Police have not finalized numbers for December, but said 2,899 vehicles had been stolen through the end of November. The city’s interactive crime map shows that about 250 more vehicles were reported taken in December, putting the total number of 2017 vehicle thefts at a conservative estimate of more than 3,100.

[Grand Theft Anchorage: Diary of a stolen car]

The previous record for most car thefts was 2,351, reported in 1994, according to FBI Uniform Crime Reports.

Based on the 2017 increase, Anchorage will likely once again rank among the cities with the most car thefts per capita, as calculated by the National Crime Insurance Bureau. The city jumped to No. 6 on the list in 2016.

A short-term spike in thefts wouldn’t necessarily raise car insurance rates for Anchorage drivers, said NCIB spokesman Frank Scafidi. But if theft claims continue to mount year after year, vehicle owners here may end up paying the bill.

“Anything that generates an insurance claim, no matter what kind of incident, tends to affect insurance rates,” Scafidi said. “So the more claims you have, generally speaking, the higher the rates are going to be in that area.”

About 90 percent of stolen vehicles in Anchorage are eventually recovered, said police spokesman MJ Thim. The department’s new investigative support unit has been assisting in car theft investigations and the city is partnering with the U.S. Attorney’s office to consider federal charges against Anchorage car thieves in some cases.

“People already in custody could face additional charges from the feds,” Thim wrote in an email.

The final, official city theft numbers for 2017 will be completed within about two weeks, police said.

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