Good & Bad News: Car thefts are down but not everywhere

This is a very interesting trend, just like national numbers car thefts are down in Cleveland.

Law enforcement isn't quite sure why, but we'll take it.

We can all feel a little better when we leave our cars on the streets of Cleveland.

Auto thefts are down by a pretty significant number.

Last year, there were 528 fewer cars stolen compared to 2009.

That's a 13% drop.

One of the reasons may be that automakers are making newer cars harder to steal, with keyless entry, more sophisticated alarm systems and electronic immobilizes. Stealing cars isn't as easy as it used to be.

"It's horrible," said Matt Black.

Matt Black knows what it's like to be victimized.

"You lock it up, think it's secure, the next thing you know, it gets violated. It's the most horrible thing," said Matt Black.

One of the ironies is that the numbers in Cleveland are down even though Cleveland's Auto Theft Task Force is almost non-existent due to all the police layoffs."

"It's kind of a miracle."

Whatever it is, our positive numbers are consistent with a nationwide trend.

Across the U.S., auto theft is down 36% since 2006.

Now the bad news. Auto theft is still a big problem.

3,500 cars were stolen in Cleveland last year.

And so far this year, the numbers are up 8%.

Elyria meantime, is one of the few places where car thefts are up so 19 Action News went there to find out why. And wouldn't you know it, one of the first people we happened to meet...was a reformed car chief!

Ricky Michaels says he's served time for stealing almost 30 cars.

"You got all these bars around here, people come out intoxicated. You know how easy it is to say, hey, let's go get a beer somewhere, and there, you got some guy's car keys," said Ricky Michaels.

Michaels says in Elyria, most cars are stolen for a very simple reason.

"Transportation, that's it, you got no busing out here, we got like two routes," said Ricky Michaels.

So just how many cars are being stolen? In 2009 there were 84. In 2010, 103.

J.D. Tomlinson is a criminal defense attorney in town, so we asked if he's seen more cases moving through the courthouse.

"I guess I have a few more grand theft cases, but you know, I really haven't noticed a large difference in my practice," said J.D. Tomlinson.

Cory Meadows was unaware of the spike in Elyria car thefts but still feels relatively safe leaving his car downtown.

"It's not the greatest times right now, everybody's just scraping to make a living," said Cory Meadows.

It would be easy to blame the increase on the economy, but the economy is bad almost everywhere.

So this has got to be a priority for Elyria police.

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