Vehicle theft rate hits 20-year low

By Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY

Reported vehicle theft has fallen to a 20-year low even as the number of vehicles on the road has doubled, as manufacturers install sophisticated anti-theft technology in cars and police target organized car-theft rings.The FBI estimates 956,846 motor vehicles were stolen in 2008 — 315 cars for every 100,000 people. That’s less than half the rate in 1991, when a high of 1.66 million vehicles were stolen — 659 for every 100,000 people. Data for 2009 are not yet available.

 There are more than 245 million vehicles on the road today, up from 122 million in 1989, says Charles Territo, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade organization.

 “It’s a much tougher job to be a car thief today,” says Russ Rader, spokesman for Highway Loss Data Institute, a research group funded by auto insurers that analyzes data from insurance claims. “The technology in new vehicles makes it much harder to make off with a car.”

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