Riverside County ranks 5th in national auto thefts

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According to Sergeant Brown of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, in 2016 Riverside County was ranked 5th in the entire country in vehicle theft. The 2017 numbers are not out yet.

Sergeant Brown is assigned to Riverside Auto Theft Interdiction Detail (RAID), a multi-jurisdictional vehicle theft task force. At the Regular Session board meeting on Feb. 6, he gave a presentation to let the community know that the task force exists and what its mission is.

Sergeant Brown stated that work trucks and F250s are high on the theft list with many stolen for the tools inside, and that the top three targets statewide are:

Autos: 1998 Honda Civic, 1996 Honda Accord and 1997 Honda Accord.

Motorcycles: 2007 Suzuki, 2015 Yamaha and 2001 Yamaha.

Trucks and SUV: 1999 Honda CRV, 2000 Honda CRV and 1998 Honda CRV

Commercial Trucks: 2009 Freightliner, 2008 Freightliner and 2010 International.

Vehicle theft remains an epidemic across the United States and is one of the most costly property crimes in the nation. According to the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, auto theft has dropped approximately 25 percent in Riverside County since the formation of RAID.

The task force has proven to be a valuable resource to Riverside County law enforcement agencies in their collective efforts to prevent vehicle theft activity, increase the apprehension and identification of individuals involved in auto theft, increase the recovery of stolen vehicles through the development of special enforcement programs and to educate the citizens of Riverside County in vehicle theft prevention.

In 2017, RAID arrested 153 suspects, recovered 544 stolen vehicles, eliminated 26 Chop Shop operations, inspected 21 businesses, inspected 2752 vehicles and recovered vehicles with a value of $5,885,100.

Sergeant Brown suggested the following for vehicle theft prevention:

Layer 1: Always use common sense. Lock doors, remove keys, close windows and park in well-lit areas.

Layer 2: Use a visible or audible device, such as a steering wheel lock, brake locks or audible alarm.

Layer 3: Install a vehicle immobilizer, such as smart keys, fuse cut-offs or kill switches.

Layer 4: Invest in a tracking system, such as a GPS or LoJack.

Auto Club and RAID law enforcement agencies provide the following tips to prevent vehicle burglary and car theft:

  • Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a secure garage and lock it.
  • Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed. Never leave valuables inside the car, especially not in clear view.
  • Bring electronics and personal items into your home or office whenever possible.
  • Use anti-theft or automatic tracking devices. If your vehicle wasn’t equipped with an alarm or hidden tracking device when purchased, have one installed.
  • Never leave your keys in your vehicle, even at a gas station.
  • Park your vehicle in a well-lit area at night.
  • Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle, including under floor mats, sun visor, etc.
  • Never leave the vehicle running at any time when you’re not in it. This includes your driveway, while picking up friends, or while at a grocery store or shopping mall.
  • Never put identifying information on your keychain.
  • If you own a frequently stolen vehicle, like an older Honda, get a secondary locking device for your vehicle and use it.
  • Use a valet key when valet parking. Some vehicles have special valet keys which can only be used to park your vehicle. Several high-performance vehicles also use special keys to limit vehicle speed and engine revolutions per minute (RPM).
  • Never leave your parking ticket stub in your vehicle. Take it with you so an auto thief cannot use it as a “ticket” to exit out of the parking lot or structure.
  • If you must leave your keys with a valet, always remove all other unnecessary keys. While you’re enjoying the show or dining out, a dishonest valet can copy your keys and later burglarize your home or business.
  • Beware of thieves stealing vehicles during test drives. If you’re advertising a vehicle for sale online or on Craigslist, get driver’s license information of the prospective buyer and enough other information to ensure the potential buyer will have a strong incentive to bring the car back.

RAID was formed in 1993 to reduce the incidence of auto theft in Riverside County. It currently operates out of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department under the direction of a C.H.P. Lieutenant and Riverside Sheriff Sergeant.

The task force is comprised of law enforcement personnel from the California Highway Patrol, Riverside Sheriff’s Department, Riverside Police Department, Murrieta Police Department, Indio Police Department, NCIB and the Department of Insurance. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has also assigned a Deputy D.A. to prosecute all auto theft cases.

In September 2009, RAID was bestowed the Distinguished Service Award by the Western States Auto Theft Investigators Association for their exceptional work ethic and attention to detail in the detection, apprehension and prevention of vehicle theft. At the Western States Auto Theft Investigators Conference in October 2017, RAID was presented the NICB Gary Gray Award for excellence in vehicle theft investigations.

RAID is funded under Assembly Bill 183 that provides a registration fee of $1 for every vehicle registered in Riverside County. This is a user fee and does not impact local budget or burden revenue budgets. Revenues allocated to a county under California Vehicle Code 9250.14 are to be used to fund programs that enhance the capacity of law enforcement and prosecutors to deter, investigate and to prosecute vehicle theft crimes.

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