For six consecutive years, despite population growth, the number of auto-related thefts has droppe in the Phoenix area.

And just in the span of two years, from 2007 to 2009, auto thefts were almost slashed in half from 34,182 to 17,307 in the Phoenix area.

According to Ahwatukee resident and Arizona Automobile Theft Authority (AATA) board member Brian Garrett, the decreases have been a product of the AATA’s many initiatives, particularly “bait cars,” which are “tremendously effective and act as a deterrent.”

The Bait Vehicle Program uses vehicles donated by insurance agencies. They are equipped with tracking devices before being placed in areas with high auto theft rates. The program has led arrests and prosecutions and deterred other crimes, Garrett said.

Along with the Bait Vehicle Program, Garrett notes, one of the greatest assets to the AATA has been the Arizona’s auto theft task force or the Regional Auto Theft Team Law Enforcement Response (RATTLER). With a knack for investigating auto thefts, the task force has been actively cooperating and supporting local law enforcement and prosecutors.

Another important ingredient in deterring car thefts, Garrett said, is basic public awareness, which has helped the theft rate in the region plummet.

 Here are some tips from the AATA that drivers can follow to keep from becoming a victim:

The first layer involves common sense advice that includes: always locking the vehicle and holding the keys and parking in well-lit areas.

The second layer of protection is employing visible and audible warning systems. Such tactics include enrolling in the free Watch Your Car Program, etching the vehicle’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) into the window glass, using steering wheel and brake locks and installing an audible alarm.

The third layer is aimed at immobilizing a stolen car with a kill switch, starter, ignition or fuel disabler, and smart keys.

Last but not least, the AATA recommends having a tracking device so that law enforcement authorities can react and recover the vehicle in a timely fashion.


Ahwatukee Foothills resident Timothy Lee is a senior at Desert Vista High School. He is interning this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News.


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