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CHP reports double-digit drop in vehicle thefts in 2009

September 8, 2010 |  3:59 pm

Vehicle thefts in the Golden State dropped 15% from 2008 to 2009 in what the California Highway Patrol called the largest year-over-year decrease in decades.

There were 169,058 stolen vehicles reported in 2009 compared with 199,766 the previous year, according to data released by the agency Wednesday.

Over the same period, the recovery rate was 89% for stolen vehicles, which include autos, motorcycles personal and commercial trucks, recreational vehicles and trailers.

Southern California led the way in stolen vehicles but also saw significant reductions in such crime. San Diego County had the largest drop, 30%, from 21,863 stolen vehicles in 2008 to 15,314 last year.

Los Angeles County, which had the most reported vehicle thefts in the state, experienced a 17% reduction to 48,849 from 59,091 thefts. Orange County saw its stolen vehicle rate fall by 16%, Riverside County by 15%, San Bernardino County by 13% and Ventura County by 14%.

Officials attributed the drop to a combination of education, technology and tougher enforcement 

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a statement that since 2005, the state has seen a 35% reduction in stolen vehicles.

“Even with the decrease, on average, a vehicle is stolen every three minutes in California,” Farrow said. Although the overwhelming majority were recovered, he said the loss to Californians totaled more than $1 billion.

Law enforcement officials have stepped up their efforts to track down thieves. Tactics include use of bait cars, license plate recognition systems, joint task force operations and training in dealing with vehicle thefts.

-- Andrew Blankstein