By DENNIS WYATT
There was a vehicle stolen in Manteca every 26.3 hours during the first six months of this year.
It’s a far cry from 2005 when thieves were stealing a vehicle in Manteca every 10.9 hours for a record 798 vehicles in one year. That nose bleed number included one big rig left idling in front of a Manteca home and a Manteca Police patrol unit.
If current trends hold, Manteca will end 2019 with 332 vehicle thefts. The 166 vehicles stolen through June represent a 5.68 percent decline from 2017 when 176 vehicles were stolen in the first six m months of that year.
Manteca Police since 2005 have been especially aggressive at times going after auto thieves. Besides dedicating an officer to the countywide auto theft task force that includes several other jurisdictions teamed up with the CHP, Manteca in the past has deployed bait cars in high crime areas to catch auto thieves in the act and then cutting off the engine.
They also did a full-scale education effort telling the public repeatedly to not keep their engines running or keys in the ignition. Between 2005 and 2010 nearly a quarter of all vehicles stolen in Manteca had keys in the ignition or were left idling while owners went back into their homes or stopped to get coffee.
At one point the police proposed making it a citable offense to leave your keys in the vehicle. Public sentiment derailed the move but the public heard the message.
The highest theft cars tend to be older models without a lot of year-to-year changes.
For the first time in 2017 since at least 2003 the Stockton Metro area — that includes Manteca, Lathrop, and Lodi — did not make the top 10 cities for the highest per capita of vehicle the United States.
Modesto continued to make the top 10 list in 2017 coming in at No. 4 as it has consistently done since at least 2003 based on statistics kept for vehicle thefts per 1,000 as compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Since 2010, at least six — and sometimes eight — of the top 10 cities in the country for auto theft were in California. In addition since 2008 four of the top cities nationally for auto theft can be found along the Highway 99 corridor passing through the San Joaquin Valley.
Modesto since 2003 has been the top vehicle theft city in the nations six times, No. 2 four times, as well as once at No. 4, No. 5, and No. 7. Stockton has never had the dubious honor of being the No.1 vehicle theft city in the nation at any time since 2003. It has been No. 2 twice, No. 3 once. No. 4 twice, No. 5 three times, No. 6 once, No. 7 once, and did not make the top 10 list once.
Nationally, more than 600,000 vehicles are stolen in a given year in the United States.