Anchorage police say car thefts are down in the municipality and car theft suspect arrests are up so far this year.

Statistics released by police show 163 vehicles were stolen in January of 2019, compared to 390 vehicles stolen in January of 2018.

APD Patrol Capt. Sean Case says some of the numbers are as low as they were four years ago.

"If you compare our February stolen vehicle numbers with February of last year," Case said, "it's about a 65 percent decrease in stolen vehicles while increasing our arrests about 11 percent."

Case says police credit several reasons for the drop, starting with more APD officers being on patrol. Their work means more cars are being recovered and more suspects are being arrested.

He says APD has also added property crime detectives, who interview suspects and others found in the stolen cars. Case says they are then able to connect other crimes like burglaries and drug-related crimes.

The third reason Case gives for the decrease in stolen vehicles is APD's partnership with prosecutors. More vehicle-theft cases are being prosecuted, either federally by U.S. Attorney for Alaska Bryan Schroder's office or in state court by Anchorage District Attorney John Novak's office.

Cars are often stolen to sell and transport drugs, Case said. Car thefts can also be a crime of opportunity, since they're frequently left unlocked, running or with keys in them.

Along with avoiding those acts, people can help prevent car thefts by removing valuables from vehicles or keeping them out of sight.

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