Hot cars are cooling off in Clark County.
For the second consecutive year, fewer cars per 100,000 residents are being stolen in Southern Nevada. In 2006, Southern Nevada led the nation in car thefts.
A report released Monday by the National Insurance Crime Bureau ranked Clark County as the metropolitan area with the seventh-highest rate of car thefts in the nation for 2008.
Las Vegas police Lt. Robert DuVall credited the improved ranking to a car-theft task force called VIPER, which stands for Vehicle Investigations Project for Enforcement and Recovery.
In the task force, Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas police work with the Nevada Highway Patrol to prevent auto thefts and make arrests.
“It represents a lot of hard work that was done by all four major police agencies in Southern Nevada,” DuVall said.
In 2006, there were 1,265.9 car thefts per 100,000 residents. Two years later, that figure dropped to 732.25 thefts per 100,000 residents.
Modesto, Calif., led the nation in car thefts in 2008.
DuVall said VIPER pursues all angles of auto theft, including professional car thieves, amateurs and people who make false claims for insurance money. In October 2006, the task force began using bait cars to catch thieves in the act. Bait cars are equipped with cameras and can be shut down by an officer monitoring the vehicle.
Frank Scafidi, a spokesman with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, based in Des Plaines, Ill., said Southern Nevada’s decline reflects what’s happening across the country. According to preliminary data, car thefts declined by 12.6 percent in 2008 compared with 2007, the largest single drop since 1999.
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638.