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Statewide Auto Theft Rates Continue to Decline

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LIVONIA, MI--Feb. 13, 2014 -- For a sixth consecutive year, thefts of entire vehicles are down in Michigan, according to the 2013 Michigan Automobile Theft Prevention Authority (ATPA) Annual Report. Despite the decrease, H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts), Michigan's statewide auto theft prevention program, is warning the community that auto theft-related crimes continue to rise.

"It's good to see the number decline," said Terri Miller, executive director of H.E.A.T., Michigan's statewide auto theft prevention program. "But thieves aren't going away, they're just changing gears. As whole-vehicle thefts decline we've seen a sharp increase in auto theft-related crimes including carjackings, online/Craigslist fraud, component theft and insurance fraud.

H.E.A.T. coordinates citizen action with law enforcement agencies through a confidential toll-free tip line for reporting information on stolen vehicles, chop shops and suspected auto theft activities including insurance fraud, identity theft and carjackings.

In August 2013, the Detroit Police Department – in partnership with the Michigan State Police and H.E.A.T. – enacted the "Heatwave Initiative" with the goal of cutting the number of carjackings in Detroit. The task force identified and deployed officers to areas known to be carjacking hotspots. Members of DPD, H.E.A.T. and neighborhood group volunteers provided residents and community leaders with safety awareness tips.

Since H.E.A.T. was founded in 1985, the organization has recorded more than 10,000 tips. Michigan residents have assisted in the arrests of nearly 3,700 suspects of auto theft-related crimes, and have helped H.E.A.T. recover more than 4,600 vehicles amounting to $57.4 million in stolen property throughout the past 28 years.

"Despite the continued decline in the number of vehicle thefts in Michigan, we must continue to increase awareness of auto theft-related crime in our communities," said Miller.

Below are highlights of the 2013 ATPA Annual Report: (Note: This data, which is the most recent available, is from 2012. Data for the 2013 calendar year will be available from the ATPA in February 2015).

Since 1986, Michigan auto thefts have decreased from 72,021 to 24,973 – a 65.3 percent decline – despite growth in both population and number of registered vehicles. Michigan motorists are saving $52 annually per insured vehicle as a result of lower theft rates. According to the FBI, Michigan ranked seventh in number of motor vehicle thefts with 24,973 in 2012. Though the Detroit Police Department saw the most vehicle thefts compared to other law enforcement agencies in Michigan with 11,504 auto thefts, the number of thefts reported to DPD has decreased by 50 percent since 2006. In 2012, Wayne County topped the list of Michigan counties with the highest reported motor vehicle thefts with 15,352 (67 percent of total state thefts), while Macomb and Oakland Counties accounted for 1,950 (9 percent) and 1,850 auto thefts (8 percent), respectively. The 2000 Dodge Caravan once again topped Michigan's list of most stolen vehicles in 2012, and thieves' top color preferences for vehicles to steal remained black, followed by white and red. The months with the highest auto theft figures were August, October and September.

"We hope the drop in auto theft numbers continues year after year," said Miller. "Fortunately, the partnership between citizens, the insurance industry, law enforcement, prosecutors and H.E.A.T. can help to put an end to all auto theft-related crime. Through our 24/7 tip line (1-800-242-HEAT) and website (1800242HEAT) tipsters can do their part and anonymously report auto theft-related crime. Some tipsters may be eligible for cash rewards up to $10,000 for their information."