Ohio Auto Thefts
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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Ohio Auto Thefts
- US Auto Thefts
- Arson: A Costly Crime
- The Impact of Insurance Fraud
- 1997-99 Ohio Motor Vehicle Thefts by Selected Cities
- 1999 Top 10 Stolen Vehicles in Ohio and Selected Cities
- 1999 Top 10 Reported Stolen Vehicles in US and 1998–99 US Motor Vehicle Thefts by State
- Ohio's Crime Picture
- US Crime Clock: 1995 and 1999
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
OII Sound-Off Page

Auto theft experience in Ohio has generally been better than other states with a similar auto-to-population ratio. Over the past decade, the Ohio auto theft rate has fluctuated, increasing some years and decreasing in others. 39,192 motor vehicles were reported stolen in Ohio in 1999, a decrease of 8.9% from 1998’s 43,021 thefts.

Theft prevention programs

Numerous federal standards and acts have been passed to combat the auto theft problem in the US. Insurers and other highway safety advocates continue to support federal legislation that would target auto thieves and strengthen current laws.

Several auto theft programs in Ohio have played an important role in holding the state’s theft rate below the national average. During 1999, Ohio’s 348 thefts per 100,000 inhabitants remained well below the national average of 421.

One of Ohio’s most effective auto theft programs is the Ohio Highway Patrol Blue Max program, started in 1972. Each time a motorist is stopped by a trooper for any reason, the car serial number is checked through a computer to determine its owner. When a stolen vehicle is recovered, the officer is given a lightning bolt decal to place on the patrol car. Five lightning bolts earn the officer the designation “ACE” and a special license plate. Each year the State Highway trooper with the most stolen car arrests and recoveries receives the Blue Max award.

Since its inception, the Blue Max program has accounted for recovery of 40,855 vehicles worth over $153 million and the arrest of 26,747 car thieves. In 1999, ten troopers earned the ACE designation.

Ohio laws

Ohio has enacted several laws dealing with specific aspects of the auto theft problem. One law covers the offenses of auto rental fraud, aggravated joy riding and auto theft conspiracy. Two other laws deal with the use of fraudulent or counterfeit auto titles in the sale of late-model stolen cars.

Yet another statute establishes penalties for auto theft insurance fraud; allows the exchange of information on auto theft among law enforcement, insurers and those acting on their behalf; and provides immunity for cooperating parties. It also establishes a record system to trace cars taken out of the country and creates penalties for unlawful destruction or alteration of vehicle identification numbers.

A 1994 Ohio law (SB 75) permits counties and municipalities to establish a voluntary vehicle decal program for identifying potentially stolen vehicles. Similar programs in other states start with a voluntary registration process where vehicle owners sign a form indicating their vehicle will not be driven during specified hours (i.e., between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m.). To distinguish participating vehicles, the owner affixes a decal to the car’s window. If law enforcement officials spot a “decaled” car being driven during the restricted hours, they can stop it and ask the driver for identification and registration information. Ohio law provides protection provisions for law enforcement during related activities.

Ohio insurers working to combat fraud

The Ohio Insurance Fraud Task Force, a consortium of federal and state governments and the private sector, was formed in 1993 to promote a uniform approach to addressing insurance fraud in the state. One of the missions of this group is to address detection, prevention and education relating to insurance fraud.

Ohio’s fraud law

The Ohio General Assembly passed legislation in late 1997 (Am. Sub. HB 248) that strengthens Ohio’s insurance fraud laws. Click here for highlights of the law, which was effective on March 17, 1998.

According to the National Bike Registry, some 1 million bicycles are stolen each year, mostly between the months of May and July.
(Smart Money, 6/00)