Photo cutline: The decline in car thefts is attributable to owner awareness and anti-theft devices.
(NUI) - Reflecting the rise in private prosperity and a sharp increase in the use of security devices, the theft of automobiles in the United States has actually declined for three consecutive years but the trend may be shifting back toward more thefts.
Car thefts nationwide, according to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, dipped 8 percent in 1992; 9 percent in 1993; and 2 percent in 1994.
By region in 1994, the South dropped 2 percent, the Midwest just 1 percent and the West showed a 2 percent increase. In all cases, the trend was toward less decrease in thefts than the year before.
Among cities, those with populations of more than 1 million posted a sharp 6 percent decline in thefts; cities from 500,000 to 999,999 posted a 5 percent drop; and those with 250,000 to 499,999 saw a 2 percent decrease.
Only in smaller cities, from 100,000 to 249,999, did the number of thefts rise by 1 percent.
Here are the figures for the top 10 cities in numbers of car thefts in 1993. Car theft experts say the standings have changed little since then, but official figures are not yet available for 1994.
New York City suffered 112,464 car thefts; Los Angeles, 59,764; Chicago, 40,438; Philadelphia, 28,785; Detroit, 28,061; Houston, 27,519; San Diego, 19,319; Dallas, 17,465; Phoenix, 15,566; and Memphis, Tenn., 13,289.
In terms of total number of car thefts by state:
California more than doubles New York to lead the list with 319,295; New York at 151,949; Texas, 124,837; Florida, 122,516; Illinois, 65,351; Michigan, 58,291; New Jersey, 56,253; Pennsylvania, 53,033; Massachusetts, 49,063; and Ohio, 48,276.
Police say that a significant part of the decline in thefts can be directly attributed to a steady increase in car owner awareness about how thieves work and the security systems that may foil them.
Some of the latest devices use intelligence technology and satellite communications to make properly protected vehicles harder to steal in the first place, and more easy to find if they are stolen.
Audiovox, a leading distributor of automobile security devices, offers free information on auto security systems. Call toll-free 1-800-645-7750.