Barstow Car Thefts Jump 33 Percent
Barstow • While vehicle thefts in California have declined, the Barstow Police Department reports vehicle thefts are up by one-third during the first eight months this year, as compared to last year.
California experienced a 1.3 percent reduction in the rate of vehicle thefts from 2010 to 2011, and the overall rate has dropped since 2006, according to a CHP press release.
In contrast, Barstow Police Department’s Uniform Crime Reports shows a 33 percent increase in auto thefts from January to August 2012, as compared to the same months last year. Barstow had 94 auto thefts during those months last year, and 125 auto thefts this year.
Unlike state trends, city statistics can be significantly influenced by the actions of individual vehicle thieves. Even taking one criminal off the streets can reduce auto theft rates significantly. Auto theft rates decreased 40 percent in Barstow between the months of July and August this year, which translates to a difference of six cars.
In July, one man was arrested for allegedly stealing at least six cars and burglarizing two more in just over a single month. Barstow resident James Bowles was arrested after the Street Enforcement Team noticed a spike in stolen vehicles in an area south of Interstate 15 and west of Barstow Road and decided to investigate on July 12.
Bowles attempted to flee the scene when approached by the police, but was found hiding under a car. Three stolen vehicles were discovered near Bowles’ home after the arrest, and three vehicles had previously been recovered.
Bowles is currently serving two years in jail after being found guilty on July 24 of theft of personal property, two counts of buying or receiving stolen property, and carrying loaded firearm.
At the time of the arrest, Police Sgt. Mike Hunter praised the work of the officers who apprehended Bowles.
“It’s a good caper for those two SET team officers,” Hunter said previously. “They did a good job getting this guy into custody.”
According to a CHP press release, the decrease in vehicles statewide is in part attributed to the work of the law enforcement, which uses bait cars and license plate reader systems, joint task force operations, and vehicle theft training to fight vehicle theft.
Additionally, increased cooperation with district attorneys as well as advanced anti-theft technology used by the automotive industry have contributed to the decline.
Last year, 84.9 percent of stolen vehicles were recovered, but California loses approximately $1 billion annually as a result of car thefts, according to the release.