Cops Gain Upper Hand, But Car Thieves Still Busy
Law enforcement officials said new technology is one of the main reasons for a drop in auto theft in California for the first time this decade.
Last year, California saw a statewide 5.5 percent drop in auto theft, with 247,896 cars being stolen, according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
Vehicle-theft tracking, security systems, and devices that lock steering wheels, columns, or brakes were some of the efforts owners used to protect their vehicles.
Law enforcement also used an impressive array of technology. “Bait cars,” cars placed in high-theft areas, sometimes with the keys inside and engines running, can be tracked and even turned off remotely by police and resulted in 357 arrests by the CHP.
License-plate recognition systems, which use multiple cameras mounted on patrol cars and can automatically scan license plates and identify stolen cars through a database, were responsible for 535 arrests and 868 vehicle recoveries.
Police are also trying to reduce car owners’ bad habits, such as leaving a car running for a quick errand or to warm it up on a cold morning, by issuing tickets for leaving a running vehicle unattended.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the LA Daily News (02/15/07); Sheppard, Harrison.