The number of vehicle thefts is on the rise in Carson City, with 79 reported as 1999 closes.
According to a Nevada Division of Investigation statistician, the number represents a jump from last year's total of 47. Investigations into this year's thefts have resulted in 14 arrests.
In the last month alone, 11 vehicles were reported stolen in Carson City.
The Viper unit, the vehicle theft team, investigates organized theft rings throughout Nevada. Although the bulk occur in Las Vegas, four Viper officers work Northern Nevada cases from their Reno office. In Las Vegas, an estimated 750 vehicles are stolen each month.
Viper Supervisor Mike Allen said there are some simple techniques to avoid becoming a victim of vehicle theft.
The first and perhaps most simple precaution is to make sure the vehicle is locked and valuables are out of the sight of car thieves. Car alarms, steering wheel locks and vehicle locator devices also help stop criminals, he said. These deterrents help to stop spur-of-the-moment vehicle thefts.
"It stops the opportunists, the people who are just looking for a car to steal," he said. "However, the professionals can easily get past some of the simple devices."
A steering wheel lock, for example, can be removed simply by cutting the wheel.
Hot-wiring is still popular with some car thieves, but Allen said a new trend is to use shaved keys (keys made to work universally) and screwdrivers to pop locks and start a car's ignition.
In Nevada, the vehicles most often stolen are late-'80s import cars. Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys are at the top of the list, mostly because of their availability and resalability, Allen said.
A lesser-known source for stolen car reports is people who have crashed while driving drunken.
"Somebody wraps their car around a pole and then decides it was stolen," he said.