By Zach Anderson

The number of automobile thefts in Kalamazoo has steadily declined in the last five years, according to data from the Kalamazoo Department Public of Safety.

Two of the most prominent areas of crime in Kalamazoo, the Edison and North Side neighborhoods, noticeably display this downward trend. Automobile thefts in Edison have dropped from 52 in 2008 to 36 in 2012. On the North Side, thefts have dropped from 45 in 2008 to 20 in 2012.

Vehicle Design Changes

According to Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller, automobile thefts have been easier to patrol thanks in large part to a change in manufacturing.

“A lot of the action that prevents automobile theft comes from the automobile makers themselves rather than law enforcement,” Fuller said.

“What we have now is many cars that are more difficult to get into without an alarm going off. Those cars are not as easy to hot wire in most circumstances as they used to be.

“A lot of manufacturers put things in place that make a car operate poorly or different if somebody breaks the boxing mechanism, so it makes it easier for law enforcement to see that and people that make a living of stealing cars, they recognize that,” Fuller said. “So they don’t steal those cars because of those reasons.”

Tips From the Sheriff

As far as the precautions to take when securing your own vehicle, Fuller offered some tips to avoid being a victim of theft.

“One, don’t leave it running when you’re not in it,” he said.

“That happens a lot in the winter when we’ll see an influx of early morning thefts and it’s usually called the ‘joy riding’ category because people would use it to get down the street to someplace else and leave it.

“Two, don’t use the hide-a-keys in your wheel wells or gas cap where everybody is going to look for it.”

And finally, Fuller said, “Lock your car.”