Stolen car report not likely to worry Valley residents

UPPER VALLEY - Owners of Honda Civics have been awarded the dubious honor of driving the most commonly stolen vehicle in Washington by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). But don't run out and buy an expensive alarm yet because local law enforcement officials say that you're more likely to find a stolen vehicle abandoned in the area than have your car taken.

In the report released last week by the nonprofit insurance organization, the Toyota Camry took national honors in 2001 for most commonly-stolen vehicle with the Honda Accord placing second and the Honda Civic coming in third. In Washington state the Honda Civic placed first, with the Honda Accord finishing second and the Toyota Camry cruising in at third.

According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, an estimated 1.2 million vehicle thefts were reported in 2001. The FBI reports stated that the nation's vehicle theft rate per 100,000 people was up 4.5 percent in 2001, marking the second consecutive year of increases in the auto theft rate following a 10-year decline.

"Vehicle thieves follow market trends and target the most popular vehicles because they provide the best market for stolen vehicle parts and illegal export to other countries," said Robert M. Bryant, president and chief executive officer of the NICB.

Although auto theft does happen in the Valley, local law enforcement officials say you're more likely to find an abandoned vehicle taken from Seattle or Bellevue in the area than find your car missing.

"In fact, we're the recipient of a lot of abandoned vehicles out here," said Snoqualmie Department of Public Safety- Police Division Assistant Chief Ed Crosson. "We probably recover twice as many cars than are stolen."

Although the numbers fluctuate slightly, Crosson said Snoqualmie sees about 10 cars stolen a year.

North Bend officials say the numbers are similar in their city. In North Bend, five vehicles were stolen in the third quarter of 2002, an increase of two thefts from the same quarter in 2001, said Sgt. Grant Stewart, commander of the King County Sheriff's North Bend Substation. He added that with any report, numbers can be misleading.

For the complete story, pick up a copy of this week's Valley Record

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