Auto theft continues to decline in San Joaquin County.
After earning the dubious honor of being the third highest area in the nation for vehicle theft, San Joaquin County for the first time since 2003 has dropped out of the Top 10 worst auto theft areas in the United States.
The 2016 rankings for stolen vehicles puts San Joaquin County — that includes Manteca, Stockton, Tracy and Lodi — at 12th in the nation from 10th position in 2015, according to the latest National Insurance Crime Bureau report per capita of thefts in each area of the country.
San Joaquin County has been in the top 10 highest areas for auto theft every year since 2004 and most recently ranked sixth in 2015, third in 2014 and fifth in 2013, according to CHP officer James Smith.
San Joaquin County law enforcement officials combined their efforts to combat vehicle thefts in 1998 when they formed the Delta Regional Auto Theft Team – known as Delta RATT. It currently consists of sworn officers from the CHP, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, Stockton Police Department, Manteca Police Department, Tracy Police Department, Lodi Police Department and the San Joaquin County Probation Department, members of the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office and an NICB agent.
Delta RATT continuously works to combat auto theft by recovering stolen vehicles and conducting auto theft investigations and promoting public awareness to prevent thefts.
Although county law enforcement officials appreciate the drop in the national rankings, they continue in a combined effort to utilize resources and encourage both public awareness and assistance in combating auto theft.
To help make sure you don’t help make that happen there are a number of things you can do.
uDon’t leave your car running unattended or keys in the ignition.
In 2004 when more than two cars were being stolen every day in Manteca almost a quarter of those thefts were because keys were left in ignitions or engines running on whether doors were locked or not.
Police tackled the wave of auto thefts by setting up bait cars in high crime areas to catch auto thieves in the act and then cutting off the engine. That no longer works as criminals have gotten a bit smarter.
They also did a full-scale education effort telling the public repeatedly to not keep their engines running or keys in the ignition. At one point, a semi-truck tractor was stolen in front of a Manteca residence where the driver had left the engine running. Police – along with the CHP – got involved in a high speed chase and got lost when the theft took the truck off the Altamont Pass freeway and cut across train tracks and left the truck in a field and fled on foot.
uPark cars in garages.
It’s an obvious anti-theft move. Manteca Police over the years have yet to report a car stolen from inside a residential garage. There have been commercial ventures targeted, however, with vehicles that were secured in a building.
uUse an anti-theft steering wheel locking device.
Police note it is rare there is a vehicle stolen that has such a device in use. That’s because it slows down criminal and forces them to break the steering column that in turn makes the vehicle difficult if not impossible to drive.
The shocker for some may be the top nine theft cars in San Joaquin County are specific models between 1987 and 2001. Newer vehicles that have key FOBs and alarm systems are much tougher to steal.
The vehicles on the list have parts that are easily interchangeable between model years.
Police say criminals will take the path of least resistance.
The top nine most stolen vehicles in San Joaquin County in 2015 were:
1. 1989 to 1997 Honda Accord
2. 1988 to 2000 Honda Civic
3. 1987 to 1996 Toyota Camry
4. 1990 to 1998 Acura Integra
5. 1993 to 1998 Saturn SL
6. 1992 to 1994 Nissan Sentra
7. 1989 to 2001 Chevy Pickup
8. 1987 to 1995 Toyota Pickup
9. 1987 to 1995 Nissan Pickup
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.