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Auto thefts go from one every 11.4 hours to one every 39.2 hours

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POSTED May 13, 2010 1:55 a.m.
A vehicle is stolen every 39.2 hours in Manteca so far in 2010.

That is a far cry from 2004 when vehicles were swiped every 11.4 hours with a record 798 stolen by year’s end. If the current pace continues, Manteca could have 223 vehicle thefts in 2010 or 27.9 percent of the number stolen four years ago.

Auto theft is a prime example of Manteca’s continuing dropping crime rate of the 11 so-called Part One Crimes that are serious felonies that the FBI uses as a measuring stick to determine, local, state, and national crime rates.

Nine of those 11 categories – except aggravated assault and a small clean-up category dubbed other burglaries – are down so far in year-to-year comparisons based on the uniform data Manteca Police Department culled from crimes reported in March.

Critics dismiss the data saying that people are frustrated and not reporting crime. But as Public Affairs Officer Rex Osborn has pointed out people do report felonies as they run the gamut from residential and commercial burglary armed robbery, homicide and aggravated assault to vehicle theft and auto burglaries.

Osborn noted people may indeed underreport misdemeanors such as thefts and such due to frustration with not being able to obtain an officer to do a report. Manteca, like other jurisdictions has moved away from police officers handling misdemeanor reports. You can still have a community service officer respond but it could take upwards of four to six hours depending upon the work load. Instead, Manteca makes it possible to report misdemeanors on-line where they are handled and responded to by supervisorial officers. The on-line reporting can be accessed by going to www.ci.manteca.us, clicking on Manteca Police and then clicking on on-line reporting where instructions are posted.

Police Chief Dave Bricker has emphasized that any crime is too much crime especially when it happens to you, he has noted that he credits solid police work and dedication of his officers plus cooperation from the public for making a dent in Manteca’s crime rate.

Part of that effort has been focusing resources on habitual criminals and building cases to get them off the streets and into state prison.

Citizen cooperation comes in many forms.

At the peak of the auto theft frenzy in Manteca, about 25 percent of all cars taken were either left with keys in the ignition or with engines running and unattended. It wasn’t unusual in 2004 for at least once a month for police to get a report of a car being stolen by someone who started it up to warm the engine and then went inside for a cup of coffee. What makes it ironic is post 1990 vehicle engineering plus Manteca’s mild weather makes warming up a vehicle superfluous.

Manteca Police have been able to drastically reduce easy car thefts through residents cooperating and not leaving keys in their cars or engines running as much as they once did.

Observant citizens are also a big help. Several burglary suspects have been caught recently because residents paid attention to the daily routine in their neighborhoods and were quick to report something amiss.

The drop of in various categories of felonies from the first three months of 2010 compared to the first three months of 2009 is as follows:

•Residential burglaries down 31.87 percent from 91 to 62.

•Vehicle theft down 36.87 percent from 67 to 55.

•Arson down 60 percent from 5 to 2.

•Auto burglary down 39.33 percent from 150 to 91.

•Commercial burglary down 20 percent from 35 to 28.

•Grand theft down 20 percent from 604 to 48.

•Robbery down 40 percent from 20 to 12.

•Rape or unlawful intercourse down 60 percent from 20 to 12.

•All other felonies down 26.47 percent from 170 to 125.

The felony crime categories that went up during the same time period are as follows:

•Aggravated assault up 76.92 percent from 13 to 23.

•Other burglary up 266.67 percent from 3 to 11.

Misdemeanor thefts are also down 2.13 percent in the three-month comparisons going from 141 in 2009 to 138 in 2010.

All other misdemeanors are off 29.73 percent (824 down to 579). Altogether misdemeanor crimes have dropped off 25.7 percent in Manteca.

Other Manteca crimes in the first three months of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009 are as follows:

•Narcotic offenses are down 45.1 percent from 153 to 84.

•Alcohol offenses are down 2.48 percent from 161 to 157.

•Fraud and forgery are down 38.34 percent from 121 to 74.

•Domestic violence is down 5 percent from 80 to 76.

•Code enforcement violations are down 27.27 percent from 11 to 8.
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