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Stanislaus County sees drop in auto thefts
Region ranks fifth in nation
The most popular cars for thieves are the 1996, 1994 and 1997 Honda Accord. - photo by Photo Contributed

The rate of vehicle thefts in Stanislaus County saw a decline for a second year, according to the latest report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The Modesto Metropolitan Area, which includes all of Stanislaus County, dropped to number five in the NICB’s national ranking of vehicle theft hot spots. Vehicle thefts have long been the bane of Stanislaus County law enforcement and the area has claimed the top spot for numerous years, including most recently in 2012. In 2013 the region was ranked in the third spot.

Stanislaus County had 3,047 reported vehicle thefts in 2014, with a rate of 572.75 per 100,000 residents, according to the NICB. The rate falls below the 3,565 reported thefts in 2013 and the 4,260 tallied in 2012.

In Turlock the number of auto thefts in 2014 was at 357, which is down by 7 percent from 2013, according to the Turlock Police Department’s 2014 annual report. The months with the fewest auto thefts in Turlock were February (13) and November (20) and the months with the most auto thefts were January (36), June (37) and August (47).

“We are seeing some good improvements in that area and I’m happy to see it go down,” said Turlock Police Chief Rob Jackson.

Taking the top spot in the NICB rankings for vehicle thefts is the San Francisco Bay Area, which recorded 29,093 auto thefts in 2014. This is the first time the Bay Area has had the dubious honor of reaching number one. In 2013 they were ranked fourth.

Of the 10 hot spots identified by NICB, seven are in California. While California cities dominate the top spots the number of vehicle thefts in the state is declining, according to the California Highway Patrol.

California vehicle thefts decreased in 2014 by almost 7 percent from 2013, marking the second year the state has seen a decline, the CHP reported.

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.