San Diego : Datsuns, Toyotas Lead Stolen Car List in San Diego

Times Staff Writer

Thefts of Datsuns and Toyotas are on the rise, the San Diego Police Department said Friday.

The reason? The "ease in which thieves can get into" them, said Police Lt. Charles Grimm, head of the department's Auto Theft Unit.

Of 1,000 vehicles stolen in February, 204 were Datsuns and 99 were Toyotas, which is 30% of all the vehicles stolen that month, Grimm said.

"These types of vehicles (Datsuns and Toyotas) are easy to get into with simple hand tools" which are easily concealed, said Grimm.

A California Highway Patrol report showed that Toyotas were one of the three most-stolen vehicles last year. "Toyotas . . . are very hot items right now," CHP Officer Harvey Heaton said.

Heaton said the top three were 1975-85 Volkswagen bugs, 1965-75 Ford Mustangs and 1976-84 Toyota Celicas.

Heaton said about 160,000 vehicles are stolen each year in California.

The CHP report also showed Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota pickup trucks, in that order, topped last year's stolen truck list.

Grimm said that alarm systems are effective in preventing thefts, but gas-line switches have proven to be one of the best deterrents. The switches can be hidden anywhere in a vehicle and, when switched off, gas is prevented from going to the engine.

Meanwhile, auto thefts in San Diego increased 11% in the last five years, police statistics show. About 8,000 cars were stolen in 1980, 9,400 in 1984 and 10,400 in 1985, Grimm said.

Police said an increased population is the major reason for the jump in auto thefts. With more people come more cars--and more of an opportunity to steal them, police said.

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