Crime - Sacto 911

California vehicle thefts declined in 2017—but some local counties saw increases

Watch man steal Sacramento police car, head to the liquor store for a beer

Zachary Samaha, 22, allegedly stole the car Saturday night near Florin Road and took it to a nearby liquor store to buy a 40-ounce bottle of beer, according to eyewitness Chris Marzan.
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Zachary Samaha, 22, allegedly stole the car Saturday night near Florin Road and took it to a nearby liquor store to buy a 40-ounce bottle of beer, according to eyewitness Chris Marzan.

The number of vehicle thefts in California headed downward in 2017, following two years of increases.

The 6.2 percent decline statewide may be attributed to advances in anti-theft technology, aggressive police work and the public's vigilance, according to a California Highway Patrol news release.

A total of 175,351 vehicles, with an estimated total value of $1.3 billion, were stolen. Of those, 157,183, or 89.6 percent, were recovered.

Sacramento and Placer County counties followed the statewide trend. The number of vehicle thefts in Sacramento County in 2017 was down 9.3 percent from the previous year, from 7,790 to 7,065, according to the news release. Vehicle thefts in Placer County dropped from 728 to 704, or 3.3 percent.

Although decreases were noted in many of California's largest counties, many smaller, rural counties saw increases in vehicle theft, the CHP reported.

El Dorado County saw a 17.5 percent increase, from 286 in 2016 to 336 in 2017, while the number of vehicle thefts in Yolo County rose from 657 in 2016 to 663 in 2017, an increase of 0.9 percent, according to CHP statistics.

In Nevada County, the number increased from 245 in 2016 to 285 in 2017, a 16.3 percent increase. Yuba County saw an 18.9 percent increase, from 143 to 170, while in Amador County, the number of vehicle thefts increased 43.1 percent, from 51 to 73.

The automobiles most frequently targeted by thieves statewide were the 1998 and 2000 Honda Civic and the 1997 Honda Accord. Motorcycles favored by thieves were the 2016 Yamaha, 2007 Suzuki and the 2015 Yamaha, according to the news release.

Of vehicles recovered statewide, 65.9 percent were found intact and in drivable condition, 3.1 percent were missing major components, 9.5 percent were stripped of minor parts and 21.5 percent were intentionally burned or wrecked, the news release said.

"Although the overall number of vehicles stolen is down, there is still much more work to be done," CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said in a written statement. "Law enforcement can't solve the problem alone. The CHP will continue to partner with local law enforcement on vehicle theft task forces to combat auto theft in California and asks the public to do its part."

The CHP offers several tips to help prevent vehicle theft:

Park in well-lighted, secure or highly visible locations.

Lock vehicle doors and close windows.

Use an alarm system

Do not leave a vehicle unattended with its engine running

Never leave valuable items in plain sight

Report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

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