|By Mark E. Vogler, Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The original task force included five
"They've done good work," said
"Theft claims between 1987 and 2011 dropped 89 percent in
Yet, despite the millions of dollars the strike force has saved in reduced auto theft claims, the state has decided to disband the unit now manned by state troopers for fiscal reasons.
"This was a move made to enhance patrol presence in the context of a tight budget situation,"
"The Department closed its auto theft unit and reassigned the unit's troopers, who formerly investigated property crimes, to uniformed patrol duties, where they will join our first-responder mission to protect the lives and safety of people who live in and travel through our state," Procopio added. "This will enhance the patrol force that removes dangerous drivers from our roads, helps motorists involved in crashes, and responds to critical incidents in our cities, towns and neighborhoods. The decision ensures adequate staffing in the barracks in the most cost-effective manner."
Johnston, of the
"In all honesty, if the local police departments stay involved dealing with this on an ongoing basis, I wouldn't expect to see a measurable change in the theft rate, or in premiums," Johnston said.
But the shutdown of the strike force could have an impact in communities like
"The state police in general have been great supporters of the city of
"Especially in the last couple of years when we didn't have an auto theft unit and we relied on them (the strike force)," the chief said.
Auto thefts in
But auto thefts increased again when layoffs forced Chief Romero to shutdown the city's auto insurance fraud task force several years ago. This year's reactivation of special operations units has led to more city police involvement in stolen car investigations, but not as much as when the insurance fraud task force was active.
Now, the special operations unit is expected to fill the void created by the end of governor's strike force.
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