When it comes to education, or new jobs, any city's goal is to be first. That is not the case with automobile thefts.
Though Phoenix held the number one title a few years ago, it has dropped dramatically to 60th place nationwide. The drop can be credited to the Arizona Auto Theft Authority Task Force's hard work and new technology.
"You've got to know where to go and where to look," said Detective Charlie Warner, who works on the task force.
Warner looks for "hot" cars, and not the ones that are popular.
"I think we're having an impact," Warner said.
Since taking first place for stolen vehicles about 10 years ago, Phoenix had dropped down to 60th nationwide, but there is still a lot of work to do.
"Right now, Phoenix is getting really hit hard with Hondas," said Warner.
Fortunately, Warner has technology on his side. He uses unmarked trucks with hidden license plate scanners, which are some of the only such vehicles being used in the state.
"I think it plays a big role in having that unmarked vehicle going in. Because as soon as you pull a marked vehicle in, it's already setting off sirens. People are walking away, notifying their friends," explained Warner.
Warner said it is also up to everyday drivers to make sure they do not become victims. When it comes to vehicle thefts, it does not matter whether it is day or night. What does matter is where vehicles are parked. If they are near interstates, they are much more likely to be broken into and stolen. Many of those cars end up in apartment complex parking lots.
"There are a lot of apartment complexes out here which is usually a good drop location for some of our freshly stolen vehicles," explained Warner.
It is those stolen vehicles that also end up becoming used for other crimes.
"Stolen vehicles are property crimes, but it's a lot more than that. Stolen vehicles are used in armed robberies, in drive-bys and in homicides," Warner said.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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