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GONE in 60 seconds: Car thefts SURGE in SF!

San Francisco, California

I left my car… in San Francisco? :-)

Last year, the Bay Area had the highest rate of car theft in the nation! Statistics show that the problem is getting worse in San Francisco. SFGate.com says that, AGAINST the state and national trend:

The rate of auto thefts in the city rose 14 percent in 2014 and is up another 10 percent as of Sept. 1, police records show. If the trend continues, roughly 7,300 trucks, automobiles and motorcycles could be reported missing in 2015 — San Francisco’s highest count in nearly a decade and a more than 80 percent increase from the low point in 2010.

Per capita, Oakland ranked second in the nation for stolen vehicles in 2012. The numbers there have steadily dropped during the past few years and leveled off this month. Auto theft fell about 4 percent in California from 2013 to 2014, the most recent statewide figures available.

Technology makes car theft harder. There are automated license plate readers that help police find stolen cars, there are smart keys, and there are keyless ignitions. SFGate.com continues:

“Cars are just more difficult to steal now,” said Frank Scafidi, a former FBI agent and spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “There’s only so much you can do with a stolen car: You can turn it over to someone for $100, go through the hassle of trying to sell it yourself, or figure out how to do some type of identity theft.”

So what is happening to the stolen cars? Although many disappear forever, hundreds disappear for a few days or weeks and then reappear, suggesting that some cars are not stolen to be sold.

“We believe suspects use them for robberies, shootings and other stuff,” said San Francisco police spokesperson Grace Gatpandan. “The vehicle isn’t tied to the suspect at all, because the license plate isn’t connected.”

Police recovered 220 automobiles and motorcycles, according to AutoReturn which tows and holds all of the stolen vehicles in the city. By neighborhood, 39 were found in the Bayview, 22 in the South of Market (SOMA), 16 in the Western Addition, and 15 Downtown.

The SFGate.com article describes other local hotspots in San Francisco. It also details the bureaucratic nightmare that occurred to a Potrero Hill resident who had her car stolen twice in two years, from the fact that you have to report car thefts in person and that an abandoned stolen car can earn the legitimate owner a collection of PARKING TICKETS that are not waived without an official stolen-and-recovered report!

Despite the surge in auto thefts, San Francisco drivers are safer now than they were in the past. The car theft rate peaked in 1992 at nearly 1,700 stolen cars per 100,000 residents. It then fell until 2001, when a second spike occured. By 2005, more than 8,000 disappeared from the streets — or roughly 1,100 per 100,000 residents.

Thefts declined until 2010 and then began slowly climbing back up. They are projected to hit 859 per 100,000 residents by the end of the year.

-Bill at

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