Auto theft falls in Fresno, rises in smaller communities

FRESNO, Calif.

A Fresno auto theft investigator told Action News rates have been cut in half over the past few months. And while Sanger Police don't know if there is a direct link they say auto theft there has shot up recently.

Cpl. Brandon Coles with Sanger Police said this year began at a slower pace than 2010. But in the past two or three months, auto theft has picked up a lot. "Not this week, but the past two weeks we were seeing... I remember some nights we were seeing two to three cars stolen," Cpl. Coles said.

For months now, Fresno police has been at war with auto thieves. In May it created the Career Criminal Auto Theft Team, C-CAT. Officers with the unit have made many arrests since then.

In the first half of the year an average of 20 cars were stolen each day in Fresno. "Right now we're averaging just under 10 vehicles per day," said Fresno Police Lt. Burke Farrah. "I'm not satisfied with that, we've got a lot of work to do."

As car theft in Fresno keeps dropping, theft in Sanger is on the rise.

"I've never had anything stolen before really, so it was kind of a strange feeling," said Kerry Lewis. Her pick-up truck was stolen a few months ago outside her home in Fresno County. She said, at first, she wasn't angry about it. She told Action News she just didn't understand why it happened to her. "Car theft is a nightmare," Lewis said.

Sanger Police is considering making a request to join forces with Fresno's C-CAT team.

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