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Statewide Vehicle Theft Rate On the Decline Again

Combined efforts of California law enforcement agencies, coupled with prevention efforts by the public, have made for a substantial decrease in the number of vehicle thefts statewide for a second consecutive year. Last year’s 8 percent decrease follows a 5.5 percent reduction in vehicle theft in California in 2006.

“These numbers reflect the hard work of law enforcement and the public, and while they are encouraging, there’s still a lot of work to be done,” California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow said.

In 2007, 227,412 vehicles were stolen in California. On average, a vehicle is stolen every three minutes in California. The estimated total value of the vehicles was $1.4 billion. Of the vehicles stolen, 88.2 percent were successfully recovered.

Among the 58 counties in California, Mono County showed the biggest reduction in the percentage of vehicles stolen at 66.7 percent. On the flip side, Monterey County had a 48 percent increase in the number of vehicles stolen last year.

Southern California is a hot spot for vehicle theft. About 55 percent of all thefts occurred in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

“Don’t make it easy for thieves,” Farrow said. “Lock the doors and take the keys with you.”

Additional tips to ensure your vehicle remains where you left it:

» Park in a well-lit, populated area.

» Don’t warm up or leave your vehicle running unattended.

» Consider a visible or audible device that alerts thieves the vehicle is protected.

» Immobilizing devices prevent thieves from bypassing the ignition and hot-wiring a vehicle.

» Tracking devices can be effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles.

Honda and Toyota continue to be popular among car thieves; Toyota has ranked as the most frequently stolen pickup truck since 1984.

Daniel Barba is a public affairs officer for the California Highway Patrol.

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