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California Vehicle Thefts Down for Second Straight Year

California vehicle thefts decreased in 2014 by almost 7 percent from 2013. This marks the second year in a row that vehicle thefts have declined, the California Highway Patrol reports.

In 2012, 174,457 vehicles were stolen in California, which was an 11.26 percent increase from 2011. Vehicle thefts decreased by 2 percent in 2013, to 171,036. Thefts continued to decrease in 2014, dropping to 159,271, a decrease of 6.9 percent from 2013.

“While the continuing decline in theft is good news,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said, “people need to remember that vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity. Simple deterrents such as locking vehicle doors, parking in a secure or highly visible location, and not leaving the car running unattended can make all the difference.”

The estimated total value of the stolen vehicles is approximately $900 million. Almost 90 percent of the vehicles were successfully recovered. Of the vehicles recovered statewide, 65 percent were recovered intact and in drivable condition. Less than 4 percent were missing major components, 12 percent were stripped of minor parts, and 18.9 percent were intentionally burned or wrecked. Additionally, in 2014, 65 of the recovered vehicles, or 0.1 percent, were cargo theft only — the products in a commercial vehicle were stolen, but the vehicle and trailer were not stolen.

The most popular cars for thieves are the 1996, 1994 and 1997 Honda Accord. The 2007 Suzuki was the most-stolen motorcycle and the 1988 Toyota pickup was the most-stolen personal truck. Toyota pickups have been the most frequently stolen pickup truck since 1984, attributed to its resale value, interchangeable parts and availability.

Almost half of vehicle thefts occurred in the five Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego, which constitute 54 percent of California’s population. The five Bay Area counties of Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara accounted for approximately 20 percent of all vehicle thefts.

The CHP offers drivers additional anti-theft tips:

» Always make sure you receive an ownership certificate when purchasing a used vehicle.

» Never hide a spare ignition key on the vehicle.

» Take extra precautions against theft if you drive one of the vehicles that is popular with thieves.

» Be aware of your surroundings prior to leaving your vehicle.

» Report possible vehicle theft activity by calling 800.TELL.CHP (800.835.5247).

The mission of the California Highway Patrol is to provide the highest level of safety, service and security.

— Jonathan Gutierrez is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara CHP.


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