The number of auto thefts in Alameda County increased for the second consecutive year, according to the California Highway Patrol-led task force that tracks and combats auto theft. The year-over-year increase follows a half decade which saw a steady decline in the number of stolen vehicles in the county.
In 2012, there were 12,622 auto thefts recorded by local law enforcement. That's up 17 percent from the previous year, which counted 10,796 auto thefts. [For breakdown by individual communities, see the table below.]
CHP investigator Marc Hinch blames the economy. Not only do criminals have increased motivation to steal cars, but local agencies have been struggling with declines in revenue. "Law enforcement is stretched to its limits and some of the agencies don't have the resources to put into property crimes," Hinch said.
Auto theft hit a 10-year low in 2010 when the county recorded 9,087 stolen vehicles.
Hinch said that while some stolen cars end up in chop shops, most of them are used for transportation. He estimates that 80 percent are ultimately recovered, although damage and towing fees can mean that victims end up paying hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Because early model cars (see the list of top 10 stolen cars on the ACRATT website) are the most likely to be stolen, auto theft hits poor people particularly hard, said Hinch.
On Tuesday, the Alameda County Regional Auto Theft Taskforce released the 2012 numbers as well as the names and mug shots of suspected auto thieves believed to be plying their trade in the area.
Call or text 510-516-2886 with auto theft tips.