Car thefts up 75% for 2010

I remember reading in the Mail Tribune in November that vehicle thefts were off the charts last year in Medford. The police were expecting close to 180 car thefts for the year. I was wondering what the final numbers were and if things are looking to slow down in 2011.

— Leslie M., Medford

The final numbers weren't pretty, Leslie.

Medford saw 178 vehicle thefts for 2010, which is 98 more than the previous year. That's a 75 percent increase and a headache for law enforcement, according to Medford police Deputy Chief Tim George.

"We are seeing more and more people who are willing to steal cars as the price of gas increases and the number of suspended drivers goes up," George said.

The good news is the majority of these cars are soon recovered, George said. "A lot of times people are stealing cars just because they need a ride somewhere," George said. "Often they are committing other crimes in stolen cars."

This year looks to pick up where 2010 left off. According to the department's crime statstics, January saw 19 stolen car reports in Medford. This is up from 14 reported in January 2010.

Medford is not alone in its car theft problem, George said. "I've spoken with analysts in Eugene and Salem and they are seeing similar increases," George said.

George expects the number to increase even further this summer, when the price of gasoline is expected to climb.

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