default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Car thefts on the rise in Lodi area

Lodi PD, Delta task force offer theft prevention tips

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013 12:00 am

Don Haynes’ son walked outside early Sunday morning to a nasty surprise: His car was gone. He found no broken glass on the ground, no evidence left behind.

Quickly and quietly in the middle of the night, he became one of Lodi’s constantly increasing car theft victims.

“(The thief) shaved a key down and used it to trigger the ignition,” said Haynes, who went to the Lodi Police Department to pick up an anti-theft device for his son’s car last week, after it was recovered. “It’s that easy, and it happens a lot.”

In Lodi, Stockton and other parts of the western United States, police say the number of car thefts has increased in recent years. Those numbers are continuing to climb due to several factors, including short jail stints for non-violent criminals. Now, law enforcement officials are getting proactive, hoping to stop a growing number of thieves.

So far this year, reported car thefts in Lodi increased 66 percent, compared to the first three months of last year, according to the Lodi Police Department. Eighty-three cars were reported stolen during the first three months of this year — nearly one a day.

In 2012, 349 cars were reported stolen in Lodi, a 39-percent increase from 2011.

After car thefts reached a historic low in 2010, the rate has rapidly increased and garnered the attention of law enforcement throughout the county.

“In January and February, it seemed like we spent much more time (in Lodi),” said Sgt. Matt McKee of Delta Regional Auto Task Force.

Between January and June last year, car thefts were up 8 percent in the United States’ Western region, while the number of stolen cars decreased in the country’s other three regions — the Northeast, Midwest and South, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

But what’s causing the spike?

Law enforcement officials say multiple factors, ranging from easy vehicle access to the realignment of California’s jail and prison system, are enabling thieves to become more opportunistic.

Many criminals have spent significantly less time behind bars since California introduced prison realignment in 2011. In order to reduce overcrowding, the state releases more non-violent offenders shortly after they’re booked, which has encouraged eager thieves.

“Auto thefts will go up when more thieves are released from jails and prisons,” said Sgt. Sierra Brucia of the Lodi Police Department. “More criminals are out on the streets as opposed to being locked up. So it’s not a stretch to say realignment is one reason for the increase.”

Thieves are also prowling neighborhoods, looking for any car that could be quickly commandeered.

“The vast majority seem to be crimes of opportunity,” McKee said.

In Stockton, a recent trend is a product of the cold morning weather, according to Public Information Officer Joseph Silva of the Stockton Police Department.

Thieves will walk the streets, searching for cars left running and unattended while the owners wait for them to warm up.

This year, car thefts have increased in Stockton, but at a lower rate than Lodi, Silva said.

He added that Stockton police have taken a proactive approach to curbing car thefts.

“We’re going out and targeting these thefts, as well as educating citizens about how to protect cars from potential auto thieves,” Silva said.

Lodi, working in conjunction with the Delta RATT, is taking a similar approach.

“It’s definitely forced us to refocus our efforts,” Brucia said.

McKee said: “We’re coming at it from an educational standpoint. We’re producing flyers with information on how to avoid being a victim of auto theft. The common-sense approach is the best way to avoid becoming a victim.”

On the streets, the Delta RATT is focusing on areas that see spikes in auto thefts.

Recently, the RATT arrested a small team they believe could be responsible for a string of thefts in a Lodi neighborhood.

After seeing a sharp rise in thefts, police increased patrols in a targeted neighborhood, McKee said.

They followed a group of teens driving a stolen car and watched as they dumped it several blocks away. Quickly, police arrested the suspects.

While police can’t attribute all the thefts in that neighborhood to the group, thefts there have drastically decreased since the arrest, McKee said.

McKee added that thieves typically steal vehicles in order to get from one place to another — maybe from Lodi to Stockton, for example. Some also take the cars and search for valuables. But rarely are the cars stripped.

Haynes’ son’s car was found only two blocks from his home, intact and unharmed.

With the car back home, Haynes took advantage of the county’s latest effort to deter car thefts.

The car is on the county’s list of the nine most-stolen vehicle makes and models, which allows Haynes to receive a free steering wheel lock from Lodi PD.

Law enforcement officials are continuing to devise proactive ideas with the hope of halting this recent rise.

“Through our efforts and the efforts of the public to take preventative measures, I think we can have a big impact on auto thefts,” McKee said.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Robert Jacobs posted at 8:07 am on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    This is an excerpt from this article: "So it’s not a stretch to say realignment is one reason for the increase.”

    BS! This is just more fear mongering by law enforcement to keep the money rolling in, or start it rolling in again! This is about overtime and police toys!

    If the police would get out of their police cars and seriously start walking a beat then they would get to know the citizens and gain their trust and they would know whats going on in their community and some times before it even happened. Of course this take years to cultivate, but its work and the police don't want to work. They want their $50,000 60,0000 - 100,000 a year jobs driving around in a car!

    The money they could have had was pissed away by their law enforcement agency administration who couldn't be bothered to save and invest monies that were available for decades! They just couldn't be frugal, its a spend, spend and spend some more mentality!

    Stop blaming crime on other things and take some of the much deserved blame where is belongs, on you! Stop bitching and do your damn jobs! if you find it too difficult or you no longer like your job you could always quit and sell shoes for a living!



Popular Stories



Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists