Ohio Car Thefts Dropped 2%, Says Trade Group

September 1, 2004

Ohio’s auto theft picture improved last year as thefts decreased about 2 percent from 2002, according to estimates released by the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII), a property/casualty trade group.

Based on auto theft survey results of 17 major Ohio city police departments and data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, OII estimates that statewide auto thefts decreased 1.9 percent between 2002-2003. This decrease follows an uptick of 1.3 percent realized between 2001-2002, which mirrored the US increase of 1.4 percent for the same period. Prior to 2000, national figures showed an eight-year period of auto theft decreases (1992-1999), followed by a 1.2 percent increase between 1999-2000, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.

OII’s findings suggest Cincinnati is where drivers experience the greatest chance of becoming an auto theft statistic in the Buckeye state. In Cincinnati there was one theft for every 52 registered vehicles in the city, a greater chance than its 2002 ratio of one in 59 vehicles. That said, Cincinnati’s ratio isn’t much worse than Dayton’s (one in 62) or Cleveland’s (one in 63). In OII’s 2002 auto theft comparison, Cleveland had a ratio of 1 in 58 while Dayton averaged one theft for every 54 registered vehicles—the worst in the state in 2002.

Between 2002 and 2003, auto theft activity in Ohio’s major cities ranged from a decrease of 48.5 percent in Euclid to an increase of 37.7 percent in Canton. Based on survey results, OII estimates statewide auto thefts were 41,943 in 2003. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports shows statewide thefts were 42,767 in 2002 and 42,229 in 2001.

The FBI reports that the average value per vehicle stolen in 2002 was $6,701, up from the 2001 figure of $6,646. According to OII calculations, the value of unrecovered vehicles in 2003 exceeded $103.7 million—down from 2002’s tally of $105.7 million. The nation’s vehicle recovery rate improved from 62.2 percent in 2001 to 63.1 percent in 2002.

Based on OII’s analysis, nine cities reported decreases between 2002-2003 ranging from 3.1 percent to 48.5 percent. Of the cities reporting decreases, Euclid had the greatest percentage drop—down 48.5 percent—reducing thefts from 297 in 2002 to 153 in 2003. Five other cities experienced double-digit decreases in auto theft: Lima (26.7 percent), Mansfield (16.8 percent), Dayton (15.3 percent), Elyria (15.3 percent) and Akron (12.5 percent).

Canton showed a 37.7 percent increase between 2002-2003, the highest percentage increase in the state. Parma (20 percent), Warren (14.6 percent) and Cincinnati (12.4 percent) ranked second through fourth respectively among cities experiencing the highest auto theft percentage increases.

An OII comparison of 2003 thefts to vehicle registrations indicates one vehicle stolen for every 288 registered in the state, a slight improvement from the 2002 ratio of 1 in 282 and 2001’s ratio of 1 in 275. Although Lorain showed a slight increase in the number of thefts this year—3.1 percent—their ratio of one theft for every 593 registered vehicles remains best in the survey for the second consecutive year (1 in 619 in 2002).

The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that consumers will spend $255 million in 2004 for aftermarket electronic vehicle security devices (like keyless entry and electronic tracking systems).

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