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Auto Theft Down in Phoenix and Tucson; Arizona DPS Takes Credit

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The Arizona Department of Public Safety is taking credit for a decrease in auto thefts in Phoenix and Tucson, saying a smorgasbord of enforcement efforts made the difference.

Referring to a report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau that show no Arizona city in the Top 10 auto theft hot spots for 2008, DPS director Roger Vanderpool says todaythat, "Much of this is a result of the sustained effort by DPS to attack the problem of auto theft from several different angles."

The state agency went after chop shop operators and gangs. They used a new technology that reads license plates from afar. All told, DPS says, more than 4,200 stolen vehicles were recovered and hundreds of suspects arrested.

As residents well know, vehicle thefts have plagued the Valley for years. But last year, Phoenix plummeted from Number Eight on the NICB's list to Number 19. Tucson went from 10 to 13. This is no reason to start leaving the baby in the car with the AC running while you go in the store, of course. Phoenix still had a reported 26,000 vehicle thefts in 2008.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau indicates the action has moved to Texas towns like Laredo, which are experiencing an increase in auto theft. From an April 13 NICB news release:

"This is a mixed bag of good news and bad news on the vehicle theft front," said Joe Wehrle, NICB president and chief executive officer. "The good news is, we're seeing steady progress in reducing the overall theft rate and that means Americans aren't shelling out as much to cover the cost of stolen vehicles in their insurance premiums. We've also seen significant decreases in key areas along the border such as San Diego, where thefts dropped nearly 20 percent.

"The bad news is that the theft rate continues to increase in areas like El Paso and Laredo where many of the cars, trucks and SUVs being stolen are being used to carry drugs, money and weapons into and out of Mexico. These vehicle thefts are helping finance the drug cartels that are waging war on the Mexican government."

Poor Texans. Maybe they can borrow a few of our troopers.

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