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Costa Mesa sees rise in crime

March 29, 2001

Deepa Bharath

COSTA MESA -- Police officials said Wednesday that they are concerned

by a surge in auto thefts citywide during the month of February.

"One reason for the incidents could be because the economy is down,"

said Costa Mesa Police Chief David Snowden.

If the thefts continue, he said, the city will seek the help of a

county task force to counter the problem.

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The number of auto thefts this year, however, is still lower compared

with the same period last year, said Det. Mark Manley.

Vehicle owners must exercise caution by locking their cars and

constantly being conscious of what they leave behind, he said.

"Don't leave behind things like laptops or cell phones that make your

car more attractive," he said.

February's auto thefts are also what probably what bumped up Costa

Mesa's crime rate to 16.9 %.

Officials declined to say how many auto thefts occurred in February,

but reported to the City Council this month that there were 362 property

crimes in February and that "this is the single greatest increase Costa

Mesa has had in several years and reflects a statewide trend."

The high number is no reason to be alarmed, Snowden said.

"Numbers are misleading," he said. "That's why we don't release them

month to month. The city's overall crime rate is still down, as it has

been for the last 12 years."

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