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11 vehicles stolen in 24-hour period from Manteca
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Crews of auto thieves hit Manteca Thursday night and Friday morning with citizens waking up to report 11 vehicles had been stolen.

Taken during the night were mostly Hondas followed by a variety of other cars including Saturns, an Acura, a Chevy Suburban and one pickup truck.

The last stolen vehicle report called in to dispatchers Friday was logged shortly after noon taken from the 100 block of Sherman Avenue.  At 9 a.m. another citizen called from the 900 block of Marin Street with a stolen report.

Earlier calls came from the 1400 block of Spyglass Place, the 400 block of  North Fremont Street, the 500 block of Eastwood Avenue, the 500 block of Button  Avenue, the 1400 block of Pajaro Avenue, the 700 block of Saratoga Street, the 200 block of Poplar Avenue, the 100 block of South Airport Way, and from the corner of Wedgewood Way and Redwood Avenue.

Manteca police officer Stephen Schluer – assigned to the Stockton Auto Theft Task Force – said his team recovered three of the stolen vehicles Friday morning.  Schluer said he also located a stolen vehicle taken from Stockton that had probably been exchanged for a vehicle stolen from a Button Avenue address in the midnight hours Friday.

He further explained that it is a common practice for inmates who are released from state prison or county jail to band together in “crews” of thieves who work together in canvassing communities in search of vehicles they can easily steal often selling them to chop shops for their mechanical and body parts.

Schluer strongly suggested that residents use anti-theft devices such as the CLUB that restricts a vehicle’s steering wheel.  He said that while those devices aren’t 100 percent effective, thieves will move on to other vehicles rather than take the time to dismantle such devices.

“The CLUB is a huge deterrent,” he said.  

He noted that newer cars have chips in the keys that must match a chip in the ignition, unlike older vehicles with worn tumblers that makes thefts easier using shaved keys.  The officer explained that is the reason more older cars have been stolen from homes in and around Manteca.

Older Hondas, Toyotas and Saturns are more often taken.  “I would suggest getting new ignition systems installed where the tumblers are not warn down,” he said.

Schluer also cautioned residents not to park their vehicles in dark areas.  It’s a must that they are left in well-lighted locations with a garage being the best choice when possible.

He also urged motorists never to leave spare keys mounted in, around or under vehicles where thieves can easily find them and gain quick access to their vehicles.  He suggested that drivers be aware of their surroundings before leaving their cars or trucks for the night.

Schluer added that car thieves have been known to sell a car without giving the buyer a sales receipt or pink slip, stealing it back after they parked the vehicle in front of their home or apartment.  Leaving a car running to warm it up on cold mornings and going back into the house for another sip of coffee is also a no-no, the officer said.  Many a citizen has returned to find their car missing from the driveway.

“Be aware of the high theft vehicles – some are easier to steal than others,” Schluer said.  

The auto theft officer recommended motorists look into anti-theft systems such as the Lo Jack and an early warning system that makes use of a sensor when a vehicle is stolen.  When the car or truck is three to five miles away, a message is sent to as many as three phone numbers: email, text, cell phone or work phone.

Schluer also told of the PIPS system that is mounted on two of Manteca’s patrol cars with cameras that recognize the license plates of stolen vehicles – another way that Manteca PD can assist in stolen car recovery, he said.