Auto Theft Decline in Fresno

September 22, 2009 12:57:21 AM PDT
Fresno once led the nation in auto theft cases. But those numbers have seen a dramatic decline in recent years. Back in 2002, there were more than seven thousand auto theft cases. Last year police investigated less than four thousand, a drop of 47 percent.

Car thefts are down 18 percent from this time last year in Fresno so are collisions and traffic fatalities. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer thinks the improved statistics should mean insurance savings for Valley drivers.

Less than 24 hours after this late model Camry was stolen in Central Fresno, it's recovered and dusted for fingerprints. Undercover officers say it's likely the suspect has done this before.

California Highway Patrol Officer Leonard Sherman said, "Think about the average person doesn't just steal one car. Once you get to that point where you are stealing cars, you are doing it a lot. So once we kick over that rock we usually find a lot of bugs."

The car is one of dozens on the hot sheet, a list of cars thieves have made off with recently. Lately motorcycles are a big problem and they are rarely recovered.

While car theft remains a problem in Fresno, each year as the population grows, the number of stolen vehicles is still declining.

Fresno once led the nation in stolen cars and in 2008 out of more than 300 cities nationwide, Fresno ranked 11th, Visalia and Porterville 12th, Merced topped out at 48, Madera at 75 and Hanford and Corcoran at 88.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer attributes some of the decline to the fact that 100 thousand stops are made each year by the traffic unit.

Dyer hopes the favorable numbers translate into savings for Central Valley drivers when it comes to insurance premiums.

Chief Jerry Dyer said, "You would hope that there would be a corresponding decline in auto insurance rates. I don't know that that's the case in the city of Fresno but that is something that I certainly hope would occur."

Fred Hetter of State Farm Insurance says those with comprehensive coverage have enjoyed rate cuts in the Central Valley, but it's not so much based on police statistics, but the number of claims paid out within specific zip codes.

Hetter said, "If fewer dollars and or people have filed claims for losses and that has allowed for the rates to drop some more, just recently."

Every insurance company uses different methods for calculating rates. Some factors include driving experience and number of accidents.

Some policies can be basic or complex so it's worth checking to see if you can save based on the recent trends.

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