CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow says 169,058 vehicles were stolen in 2009. That represents a 15.4 percent decrease from the previous year. Farrow says "since 2005, California has realized a 35 percent reduction in stolen vehicles."
Of the vehicles reported stolen last year, more than 88 percent were recovered. However, Farrow says the economic loss to Californians was $1 billion.
Statistics show one vehicle is stolen every three minutes in California.
Southern California is a hot spot for vehicle theft. The agency says approximately 53 percent of all thefts in 2009 occurred in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.
The commissioner says "vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity.'' He encourages people to safeguard their vehicles by parking in a secure or highly visible location, always lock the vehicle's doors, use an alarm system, and never leave a vehicle running unattended.
CHP encourages citizens to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.