Top auto theft spots belie image - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Top auto theft spots belie image

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Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2007 6:07 am | Updated: 8:04 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

When it comes to protecting your car from theft, different car owners have different approaches.

Some people dutifully lock The Club or something similar on their steering wheels every time they get out of their cars, even if they’re only going no farther than to put gas into their tanks.

Others leave their engines running, personal items clearly visible, and walk away for a half-hour at a time, their car stereos blaring something guaranteed to get noticed, like the soundtrack from “Gone in 60 Seconds.”

In Scottsdale, the surprising thing about 2006 police statistics reported by the Tribune’s Mike Sakal on Tuesday is where some of the top 10 locations in the city for auto theft last year actually were.

One is Scottsdale Fashion Square (ranked third with 18 thefts), one is the General Dynamics plant (second place, with 19), one is a car dealership, Bill Heard Chevrolet (seventh, with 12) and one is a health club, L.A. Fitness (ninth, with 11), which last year was across the street from that dealership, which has since moved two miles east.

Each of those four places is well-lighted and well-traveled by plenty of people. That’s so your car doesn’t have to be parked on some dark, lonely street in order for it to be targeted for theft in Scottsdale.

In fact, the remaining six locations are apartment complexes with dozens of units and unpredictable numbers of people going and coming, even at late hours.

Which says that well-traveled, well-lighted locations aren’t as safe as you might think.

Extra protection — various anti-theft devices, for example — is always a good idea to encourage would-be thieves to move on to someone else’s less encumbered vehicle.

And just remembering to lock your car and take the keys with you can be a great help. While you’re at it, put valuables out of sight. A thief may find your car has a lock on the steering wheel, but that won’t stop him from smashing your window to steal the contents of those shopping bags.

Of course, Scottsdale’s decline in auto thefts still means that last year 1,118 of them occurred in this city, Sakal reported. And all those at the ”top 10” locations combined totaled only 144 of them. That means the odds that a car would be stolen last year in a Scottsdale location other than those in the “top 10” are nearly eight times better, including some more out-of-the-way places.

The good news, Sakal reported, is that auto theft in Scottsdale has fallen for the third consecutive year, a decline of 26 percent between 2003 and 2006. (This is, of course, bad news for the Scottsdale’s going-to-heck-in-a-handbasket crowd.)

So, join the obviously growing number of people making their cars tougher to steal in Scottsdale. It pays.

Now, can we talk about how many drivers don’t know how to use turn signals?

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