According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the number of vehicle thefts in California declined for the second year in a row. However, the Bay Area, including Oakland and Hayward, still ranks among the top spots for vehicle theft. The five Bay Area counties of Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara account for as much as 20% of vehicle thefts in the entire state. What is it about the East Bay that makes it such a hot spot for vehicle theft?
The CHP released a statement highlighting a 7% decrease in auto thefts from 2013 to 2014. 2013 saw a more moderate 2% decrease in vehicle thefts from the year before. However, from 2011 to 2012 vehicle thefts shot up more than 11%. A statement from CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow put the responsibility of preventing auto theft on car owners.
“While the continuing decline in theft is good news, people need to understand that vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity. Simple deterrents such as locking vehicle doors, parking in a secure or highly visible location, and not leaving the car running unattended can make all the difference,” said Farrow.
Alameda County saw a 6.3% decrease in car theft in 2014. Contra Costa County had a 1.6% decrease. Almost 90% of stolen vehicles are recovered. 65% of stolen vehicles are recovered intact and drivable. 16% are recovered stripped of major or minor parts, and about 19% are recovered crashed or intentionally burned.
Honda and Toyota drivers are most likely to be victims of grand theft auto. The 1994, 1996 and 1997 Honda Accord is the top target for car thieves, with the 1988 Toyota pickup as the most stolen personal truck.
While the decrease in thefts is good news for anyone with a car, drivers here in the East Bay are living in an area with the highest rate of auto theft in the country. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area topped the list of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) report for auto theft for 2014. Moving up from 4th place in 2013, the area had 633 thefts for every 100,000 people last year.
Frank Scafidi, a spokesperson for the NICB called California, “the auto-theft capital of the world. There are more people and vehicles here than anyplace in the country. With a population that's as big as what we have here, you get lots of good people and a lot of knuckleheads.”
Grand theft auto and joyriding under the California Penal Code are both wobblers, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. As a felony, GTA can bring as much as three years in prison.
If you were charged with stealing a car, or joyriding, you should talk to an experienced East Bay lawyer, to make sure you don't end up with a felony conviction. Just because you were arrested does not mean you have to be convicted. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people facing criminal charges in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of DUI and criminal defense experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the local criminal laws, and will fight for you. Contact the local East Bay criminal defense attorney who understands how to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed.