Technology, Police Work Drives Auto Theft Totals Down


A dramatic decline in auto theft is the result of advances in anti-theft technology and aggressive police work, the Washington Post reports. Newer cars, equipped with high-tech keys and immobilizer systems, are impossible to hot-wire. Police use license plate scanners and bait cars, and devices like OnStar give investigators an edge in finding stolen cars and the crooks who swipe them. Improved anti-terror laws have made it harder to falsify documents and launder cars, making it less likely a hot car will hit the secondary market disguised as a legitimate one. Police have put resources
into dismantling theft rings and chop shops.

Car theft in the U.S. has declined more than 40 percent since 2003. The decline far outpaces drops in every other crime category. Violent crime fell 10
percent, homicide dropped 12 percent, and burglary remained essentially the same. To law enforcement experts, that auto theft is dropping nearly four times as fast as other crime makes sense because it always seemed like a puzzle that police and the industry could crack. “We thought that car theft would be the one kind of crime that lends itself to solving,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. “Finally, technology has caught up to the intuitive vision street cops had a decade ago.”

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