Study shows drop in Fresno auto theft rate

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Fresno is no longer on the top 10 list for auto thefts, it's now number 13. (KFSN)

Fresno is no longer at the top of the list of most likely places in the country to get your car stolen, a new study found.

The National Crime Insurance Bureau says Fresno's auto theft rate has dropped dramatically.

Fresno Police have discovered a relatively small number of thieves are responsible for most of the city's car thefts, and since they have reserved just five beds in the county jail to keep them locked up, thefts have dropped.

"In 2015, we had the lowest number of cars stolen in our city since 1987, nearly 30 years," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. "It was the first time we had less than 3,000 cars stolen in one year."

The decline caught the attention of the National Crime Insurance Bureau.

Fresno is no longer on the Top 10 list for auto thefts, it's now number 13.

But the Central Valley remains a hotbed for car thieves. Modesto leads the nation. Bakersfield is number 3. Stockton 6 and Merced 8.

Frank Scafidi of the National Crime Insurance Bureau says geography plays a big role.

"With I-5 being a corridor that runs from Canada down to Mexico and the ports we have in the LA and the Bay Area," he explained. "We see a lot of vehicles, especially high-end vehicles, getting exported through those ports or driven mostly into Mexico."

In Fresno, most cars are stolen and stripped for parts. Dyer those thefts are fueled by methamphetamine addicts.

"There are a lot of people out there that are stealing cars that are parking those cars out and selling them so they can support that drug habit," he said.

Increased enforcement, combined with better anti-theft technology is helping, and even though having an average of 8 cars stolen every day sounds like a lot, it's a lot lower than the nearly 40 cars a day it used to be.

"When you look back to where we were in the mid-90s," Dyer said. "In 1994, we had 13,500 cars stolen in our city with a population much smaller."
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