If you're one of the many people driving a white pickup around Payson, beware. You could be the next victim of auto theft.
The Payson Police Department reported that 23 vehicles were stolen in 2003 in Payson. Three of those were Ford pickups, making them the most commonly stolen vehicle.
Nissan and Toyota pickups followed.
The most common color of stolen vehicles was white.
Lt. Don Engler said Payson has a high pickup population, which explains the numbers.
"A lot of people have pickups as the main vehicle for the family, and most people have at least one pickup connected to the family," Engler said.
State statistics show that pickups are popular statewide, according to numbers reported in 2002 by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The No. 1 one vehicle stolen in Arizona is the Chevrolet full-size pickup. The Ford full-size pickup is second, followed by Nissan Sentra and Honda Accord.
National numbers favor smaller vehicles, with the Chevrolet full-size pickup coming in at number four, according to the NICB.
Number one is the Toyota Camry, followed by the Honda Accord and the Honda Civic.
In 2002, Arizona was the No. 1 state for vehicle theft per capita. There was a 10.5-percent increase in the number of stolen vehicles since 2001, according to the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority Statistics.
In Arizona, a vehicle theft occurs every nine minutes and 16 seconds, the AATAS report.
There are a number of reasons that contribute to the problem in Arizona, according to AATAS:
- One is that Arizona's population grew by almost one million people from 1995 to 2000.
- Arizona's dry climate allows vehicles to maintain higher values than other vehicles in the nation.
- Probably the greatest influence is due to Arizona's proximity to the Mexican border. A stolen vehicle can be stripped for parts, used to facilitate other crimes, or smuggled into Mexico before the owner realizes that it is missing.
To prevent auto theft in Payson, lock your doors, roll up your windows and take your keys out of the ignition, Engler said.
"Criminals will look for the most opportunistic time," he said. "The small-town mentality needs to be changed."
Car alarms are still effective here, as compared to the Valley where they compose the soundtrack to the city, Engler said.
"Anything that can make it more difficult for a criminal to take a car are all good ways to make sure you stay safe," he said.