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County ranks high on list of vehicle thefts
While vehicle thefts locally are down, they have not dropped far enough to move Tulare County out of the top 10 metropolitan areas with the worst vehicle theft rates in the nation, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported.
In fact, vehicle thefts continue to be a problem in the Central Valley with Fresno at No. 1. Modesto No. 2, Bakersfield/Delano No. 3, Stockton No. 7and Visalia-Porterville No. 10.
NICB’s Hot Spots report examines vehicle theft data obtained from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) for each of the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA).
MSAs are designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and often include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named. For example, the Fresno MSA includes all thefts within the entire county of Fresno, not just the city of Fresno. The same is true for the Visalia-Porterville MSA. That includes thefts from the entire county.
Tulare County’s ranking is an improvement over the past two years when it ranked No. 8.
Porterville Police has seen a decrease in auto thefts the past few years, dropping below 200 last year for the first time in many years. In 2010, PPD reported 251 vehicles were stolen, but the three-year average at that point was 307 vehicle thefts a year.
PPD Capt. Chris Dempsie said last year the number of auto thefts dropped another 30% to 194. And, he pointed out, the trend is continuing. He said they had only eight vehicle thefts in May.
He had one possible explanation for the high vehicle theft rates in the Valley.
“We’ve got a lot more older model cars in the Valley and they’re easier to steal,” he said.
Visalia has had a problem. Visalia police reported 600 vehicles were stolen in 2010, but last year the number dropped to 545.
The FBI’s preliminary 2011 crime statistics released last week indicate a 3.3% drop in vehicle thefts from the 2010 number of 737,142. Contributing to this decline was the significant drop in the rankings of the Laredo, Texas MSA — from No.1 in 2009 to 53 in 2011. Within two years, Laredo’s thefts were down 53%, from 1,792 in 2009 to 849 in 2011.
According to the report, Tulare county had 2,124 vehicle thefts in 2011; 2,409 in 2010 and 2,440 in 2009. That correlates to 1 in every 473 vehicles in the county were stolen last year.
Anyone with information concerning vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or by visiting the website at www.nicb.org. or, iPhone or iPad users can download the NICB Fraud Tips app to make it easy to quickly send a tip and get a response.
The NICB said the most frequently stolen vehicles nationwide are 1994 Honda Accord, 1995 Honda Civic, 1989 Toyota Camry, 1997 Ford F150 pickup, 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup, 2000 Dodge Caravan, 1996 Jeep Cherokee, 1994 Acura Integra, 1999 Ford Tarus and the 2002 Ford Explorer.
Dempsie said by far the most often stolen vehicle in Porterville is a Chevrolet pickup. He said older models tend to be stolen more often than new cars for a couple of reasons. One is there are more of them, thus more of a market for parts. Second, newer vehicles have more anti-theft devices that tend to scare off the crooks.
Tips to Avoid Car Theft
Remove your keys from the ignition
Lock your doors /close your windows
Park in a well-lit area
Steering column collars
Steering wheel/brake pedal lock
Theft deterrent decals
Identification markers in or on vehicle
Micro dot marking