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Fritz Grimsley

ORANGE COUNTY AUTO THEFT TASK FORCE
A Multijursidictional Law Enforcement Program

Orange County Auto Theft Statistics

In calendar year 1993, California led the nation with 313,804 vehicle thefts, or 21% of the national total.  Southern California accounted for more than 62% of the state's total.  Orange County accounted for 10.4% of the 62%, or 20,145 vehicles stolen.  The loss to Orange County victims and insurance companies was over $100,000,000.00.  

In calendar year 2015, there were 9,100 thefts of motor vehicles in Orange County compared to 6,624 thefts of motor vehicles in Orange County in 2014.  This represents only 5.07% of the statewide motor vehicle theft total of 180,000 vehicles.  It should be noted that 8.23% of all the vehicles registered in the State of California are registered in Orange County. 

In June 2016, the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force (OCATT) completed its twenty-third year of operation, combating the incidence of auto theft by professional criminals in Orange County and throughout the southern California region. 

During the 22+ year period June 1993 - December 2015, OCATT investigators arrested 1,309 suspects involved in the theft, renumbering or otherwise disguising, and sale of stolen motor vehicles. Investigators also recovered over 5,658 motor vehicles with a value of approximately $88.3 million.  

The mode of thefts of automobiles has also changed during the past twenty-three years.  In 1993, when the Task Force began, it was common for the professional auto thief to be a one or two man operation.  The same suspects would steal the vehicle(s), change the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and arrange for the vehicles’ disposition.  Often times, OCATT investigators would break up a 20-car ring and only arrest a couple of individuals.  Today, as in society, everyone is a specialist.  In the auto theft world, now one or a crew of individuals steal the automobile, others renumber it, others arrange false paperwork, and still someone else arranges the sale of the stolen vehicle to innocent purchasers.  Theft by fraud and insurance fraud has also become more prevalent in recent years. 

The advancements in technology over the past twenty-three years have not gone unnoticed by the professional auto thief.  Today, auto thieves are using the Internet and other computer sources to create false identities or obtain information on real citizens and commit identity theft.  These innocent parties’ identities are used to purchase new vehicles, rent vehicles and register stolen vehicles. 

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office provides one dedicated full-time Deputy District Attorney who is assigned to the task force.  The attorney is committed to aggressively prosecuting the professional vehicle thief and those who commit insurance fraud that the task force has targeted.  The use of “straight lined,” “vertical” prosecution has proven highly successful. 

As the professional criminals’ tools and modus operandi change, OCATT continues to change and develop new tools and training to pursue and apprehend the professional auto theft criminal. 

During 2015, 178 vehicles were successfully recovered by OCATT personnel worth an estimated $2,514,802.  The average value of the vehicles they recovered was $14,128. 

OCATT detectives made 103 physical arrests of vehicle theft suspects during 2015.  Additionally, OCATT detectives filed criminal complaints on another 31 suspects.  OCATT detectives assisted allied agency personnel make an additional 99 arrests during the same time period.

Orange County Auto Thefts
Calendar Years 1993 - 2015

Year
Orange County
Population
Licensed Drivers
in Orange County
Vehicle Registrations
in Orange County
Vehicle Thefts
in Orange County
Increase /
Decrease
in Thefts
1993 2,576,000 1,803,300 1,890,556 20,145 1234
1994 2,615,300 1,800,500 1,876,575 19,196 - 4.7%
1995 2,614,800 1,701,400 1,914,625 16,788 - 12.5%
1996
2,649,800
1,810,600
1,957,200
13,822
- 17.6%
1997
2,705,300
1,828,300
1,881,148
12,137
- 12.6%
1998
2,763,900
1,854,000
2,015,296
10,884
- 10.3%
1999
2,813,700
1,877,651
2,051,569
9,673
- 11.1%
2000
2,893,100
1,905,170
2,125,552
9,847
+ 1.8%
2001
2,925,200
1,945,258
2,178,313
11,139
+ 13.1%
2002
 2,939,500
1,988,664
2,247,656
10,842
- 2.7%
2003 2,978,800
1,987,180
2,238,415
11,256
+ 3.8%
2004
 3,017,300
1,981,373
2,523,852
12,508
+11.1%
2005
3,056,865
1,983,385
2,504,202
13,360
+6.5%
2006 3,071,924 1,998,855 2,545,849 10,987
-17.8%
2007
3,098,121
2,024,425
2,541,604
9,501
-13.5%
2008
3,107,500
2,025,409
2,526,427
7,633
-19.6%
2009
3,090,688
2,023,150
2,509,262
6,442
-15.6%
2010
3,010,232
2,034,001
2,520,474
6,356
-1.3%
2011
3,055,745
2,050,085
2,519,055
6,344
-0.2%
2012
3,090,132
2,081,856
2,539,664
7,494
+18.1%
2013
3,114,363
2,114,849
2,617,320
7,639
+1.93%
2014
3,145,515
2,145,701
2,715,617
6,624
-13.3%
2015
3,169,776
2,223,795
2,831,850
9,100
+37.4%
Above Statistics based on California Highway Patrol VTIS Reports, DMV Information, and U.S. Census Bureau
 TOP TEN CARS STOLEN IN ORANGE COUNTY IN 2015
TOP TEN CARS STOLEN IN CALIFORNIA IN 2015
TOP TEN CARS STOLEN IN THE UNITED STATES IN 2015

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