Daly City car thefts drive downhill

This year has been kind to Daly City car owners — the rate of stolen vehicles is lower than it’s been in years.

According to the latest information from the Daly City Police Department, 68 cars were stolen during the first two months of this year, a rate of 34 per month.

<p>That’s down from 2006, when a total of 514 vehicles were stolen in the Peninsula’s largest city, for a rate of 42.8 stolen cars per month. In 2005, thieves stole cars and trucks at a rate of 39 per month, totaling 468 thefts for the year.

The California Department of Finance estimates that Daly City’s population is roughly 106,000, approximately 11,000 more than San Mateo, the county’s second-largest city.

California car-theft statistics for 2006 are not yet available, but in 2005, the rate of cars stolen per 100,000 residents was 378.7, according to data from the state Attorney General’s Office. That was far below Daly City’s 468 vehicles stolen that year.

And while Daly City’s high number of residents — and more cars — certainly contributes to its having the highest number of stolen cars in San Mateo County over the last five years, other factors — such as the BART station and proximity to San Francisco — make Daly City fertile ground for car thieves, police Chief Gary McClane said.

“It’s a combination of a lot of factors,” McClane said. “It’s so easy to take somebody else’s property and just discard it when you’re done.”

McClane said the department started paying additional attention to stolen cars over the last several years “because it’s been such a problem.” The department has focused more on analysis of previous offenders and trouble spots, but cars are still stolen with ease, he said. He said in some instances, thieves “shave” car keys to essentially make them a master key for a certain type of car.

“So many of these cars are so easy to get away with. Some [people] just take them for transportation,” he said.

Daly City Capt. Mike Edwards agreed, saying some people “are looking for a quick ride home,” but that wasn’t the only reason for thefts.

“I think people are just getting a joy ride, but there are a lot of the Acuras and Hondas that people are stripping [for parts],” he said.

Car thieves are “opportunists,” said Sean Comey, a spokesman with the American Automobile Association of Northern California.

dsmith@examiner.com

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