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Highway patrol reports vehicle thefts dropped 12% in 2008

Statewide decrease is 3rd in row, biggest in last 10 years

Vehicle thefts were down in California for the third year in a row in 2008, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The number of reported thefts statewide dropped 12.2 percent, the biggest decrease in more than 10 years.

CHP statistics show that in Alameda County, there was a 13.7 percent decrease in vehicle thefts in 2008. About 11.5 percent of the 14,014 vehicles stolen were recovered.

In Contra Costa County, vehicle thefts were down by about 18.3 percent, with 6,997 reported in 2008, and 15.9 percent of those cars were recovered.

In the North Bay, Marin County saw a decline of about 16.8 percent with 575 vehicles stolen and 25.3 percent of them recovered.

In Napa County, 324 vehicles were stolen in 2008, a drop of about 21 percent. About 25.2 percent of the vehicles were recovered.

Solano County saw a decrease of about 9.2 percent. In 2008, 2,250 vehicles were stolen, 10.8 percent of which were recovered.

In Sonoma County, there was a 14.9 percent decrease. About 771 vehicles were stolen and 15 percent were recovered.

Vehicle theft in San Francisco dropped by about 5.6 percent. In 2008, 5,822 were stolen and 11.6 percent were recovered.

In San Mateo County, 2,420 vehicle thefts were reported, a decrease of about 7.7 percent. Of those stolen, 1.4 percent were recovered.

Santa Clara County showed a 16.4 percent decrease. Of the 7,560 vehicles stolen, 17.9 percent were recovered.

The biggest decrease was recorded in Monterey County, where vehicle theft dropped by about 42.2 percent. Of the 1,747 stolen, 45.3 percent were recovered.

CHP spokeswoman Jaime Coffee attributed the decline to a combination of efforts by law enforcement agencies working together to combat vehicle theft and public education.

"A little prevention goes a long way," Coffee said.

She said simple measures, such as locking the doors and taking advantage of anti-theft devices greatly help deter auto theft.

Additional measures include parking in a well-lit, populated area, considering an alarm or device that alerts thieves the vehicle is protected, taking advantage of immobilizing devices that prevent thieves from bypassing

the ignition and hotwiring a vehicle, and tracking devices that help authorities recover stolen vehicles.

Honda Accords, Honda Civics, and Toyota Camrys were the most frequently stolen cars, followed by Acura Integras, Nissan Sentras and Saturn SLs.

Khalida Sarwari, Bay City News

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