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Auto thefts in city drop significantly

Ben Godar

After auto thefts jumped 11% during 2002, Burbank Police are

crediting a variety of tactics with sparking a 21% drop in such

crimes during the first quarter of 2003.

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The reductions come at a time when car thefts continue to increase

throughout the San Fernando Valley. During the first quarter of 2003,

LAPD officials said auto thefts in North Hollywood were up 8.8% over

the previous year.

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To combat the spike in car theft, Lt. Kevin Kraft said police made

some increases in deployments, but also concentrated officers in

areas where thefts were occurring.

“A lot of it is just very high visibility,” he said. “If we have

someone come in from out of town to commit a crime and they see a

police officer, they’ll likely leave our city and go to another

city.”

In addition to having more officers in the most affected areas,

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Kraft said officers are being encouraged to get out and talk to more

people within their beats. They are also being more vigilant about

checking vehicle registration and identification for people being

cited for minor violations.

Stronger enforcement of narcotics violations is also contributing

to fewer cars being stolen, Kraft said.

“There’s always going to be a connection between property crime

and narcotics abuse,” he said.

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Thefts of rental cars in- creased in 2002, in part because more

people were using stolen identity infor- mation to rent cars, Kraft

said. While officers have encour- aged rental agencies to be more

vigilant about thoroughly checking identification, Kraft said it is

unclear if those efforts factored into the lower theft rates.


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