By City News Service
Auto thefts dropped 30 percent last year in San Diego County, dovetailing with an overall statewide decline, according to statistics released Wednesday.
Slightly more than 15,300 cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles and motorcycles were stolen countywide in 2009, compared to 21,863 the year before, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The statewide total was 169,058 in 2009, compared to 199,766 in 2008 - a 15.4 percent dip.
"Vehicle theft prevention efforts by law enforcement agencies and the public are paying off," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "Since 2005, California has realized a 35 percent reduction in stolen vehicles."
Californians' annual economic loss from stolen vehicles exceeds $1 billion, according to the CHP.
Southern California takes the biggest hit, with 53.4 percent of all thefts occurring in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, the statistics showed.
"Vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity," Farrow said. "Citizens are on the front lines when it comes to prevention."
A vehicle is stolen, on average, every three minutes in California, Farrow said.
According to the CHP, 88 percent of stolen vehicles are recovered in the state. In San Diego County last year, 75 percent of the vehicles taken were located.
The Honda Accord remains the leading target of car thieves, followed by the Civic, the Toyota Camry and Acura Integra, according to the CHP.