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County no longer ranked No. 1 in auto thefts
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       Auto Theft Hot Spots


            2009 Ranking                                                                                       

1.            Laredo, TX                                                                                               

2.            Modesto, CA

3.            Bakersfield, CA                                                                  

4.            Stockton, CA                                                                      

5.            Fresno, CA                                                                         

6.            Yakima, WA                                                                       

7.            San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, CA                                                        

8.            Visalia/Porterville, CA                                                         

9.            Las Vegas/Paradise, NV                                                                            

10.          Albuquerque, NM                                                                         


·         Information from the National Insurance Crime Bureau

There is good news and bad news for residents of Stanislaus County. The good news is the county is no longer ranked number one in the nation as the area with the highest rate of vehicle theft. The bad news: It’s now ranked number two.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau released their annual report on Monday, which saw Laredo, Texas take over the number one slot as the nation’s top spot for auto thefts. The Metropolitan Statistical Area of Modesto — which includes all of Stanislaus County — had 3,612 vehicle thefts in 2009, down 623 from 2008 and 1,746 in 2007, to take the number two spot, the bureau said.

The bureau also reported a sixth consecutive year of declining vehicle thefts in the United States.

“This is great news on the vehicle theft front,” said Joe Wehrle, NICB president and chief executive officer. “Six straight years of vehicle theft reductions are the result of a lot of hard work on the part of law enforcement, prosecutors, legislators, NICB member companies, NICB personnel and insurance industry trade groups who have contributed expertise and energy to have an impact on this crime.”

Sgt. Crabb of the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Taskforce said that educating the public was key to the county’s decrease in auto thefts. Advocating use of anti-theft devices, such as The Club, and reminding county residents to not “warm up” their vehicles — which gives thieves the perfect opportunity to steal a running vehicle — have been part of StanCATT’s public education campaign.

StanCATT — which is made up of law enforcement officers from local police departments, as well as from the California Highway Patrol, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office — also studies auto theft trends.

“We have enhanced our investigative techniques over the years,” Crabb said.

While the decline in auto thefts in Stanislaus County and the nation is encouraging, Crabb said he foresees problems in the immediately future if the state implements an early prisoner release program, which has been mentioned in state budget negotiations.

“We have a big hurdle ahead of us,” he said.

The entire Central Valley is a hot spot for auto thefts, according to the bureau, with five of the top 10 highest ranking areas for auto theft located off of Highway 99 from Visalia to Stockton.

In Turlock, vehicle thefts have also decreased from 661 in 2008 to 537 in 2009. However, for the first four months of 2010 the Turlock Police Department has already reported 223 vehicle thefts, 41 percent of 2009’s total.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.