Vehicle thefts dropped in central Ohio, nationally last year

By

June 26, 2014

The number of vehicles being stolen in central Ohio continues to drop.

An insurance-industry report released this morning shows that 3,950 vehicles were stolen last year in the Columbus area, down about 6 percent from 2012, when 4,208 vehicles were stolen. The 2013 total is less than half of the 8,397 vehicles stolen in 2004.

Car thefts nationally also fell last year after rising slightly in 2012, according to the report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The report is based on preliminary FBI data.

Car thefts have been trending down as technology used by automakers and car owners makes cars harder to steal.

The slight rise in 2012 followed an eight-year run of steady declines, and preliminary data show that the number of thefts nationally fell by 3.2 percent in 2013.

If those numbers hold, it would push the number of thefts to the lowest level since 1967.

NICB spokesman Frank Scafidi said he expects the number of stolen vehicles to continue to fall as older cars, which lack modern anti-theft technology, wear out.

“Technology is far and away the most significant factor in the continuing good news about auto thefts,” he said.

The falling rate might have thieves looking elsewhere, he said.

“Why screw around with a $1,500 car when you can steal someone’s notebook (computer) and grab their identification?” Scafidi said.

In Ohio, the only metro areas to report more thefts in 2013 than 2012 were Cleveland, Cincinnati and Springfield.

As has been the case, Cleveland had the most thefts in Ohio last year, 6,202, up 91 from 2012. That works out to 300 thefts per 100,000 people, putting it 52nd in the country, according to the report.

Columbus was 114th nationally, with 201 thefts per 100,000 people last year compared with 107th in 2012 and 104th in 2011.

“We can only hope that the trend continues,” said Mitch Wilson, spokesman for the Ohio Insurance Institute. “We can only hope that vehicle manufacturers introduce technology and make it (an) automatic part of the car rather than an option.”

Nationally, nine of the 10 biggest metros for thefts per 100,000 people were in California.

mawilliams@dispatch.com

@MarkWil57730739