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Stolen cars rate dips, but Okinawa still bad

Date Posted: 2005-08-27

Okinawans are getting a little better in keeping their cars from being stolen, but they’ve still the second worst record.

The Japan Accident Insurance Association’s Okinawa Branch says things are far better than 1999, when 631 cars were stolen here, and last year when the number was down to 344. The trend was for lower numbers to 449 in 2000, 443 in 2001, an increase to 461 in 2002, then down to 413 in 2003. Some 900,000 cars were stolen last year.

Officials attribute the declines to a stronger police investigations, plus more effective anti-theft campaigns which lead to people locking car doors, removing keys, etc. Police say half the cars stolen had the keys in the ignition, making it easy for a thief to drive away. Still other drivers left the keys in the car, with the engines running.

The insurance specialists are drawing attention to a new device which can prevent theft, or continued use of a stolen vehicle. It is an immobilizer installed on a vehicle. The immobilizer, an ID chip key, links with the car’s computer. It must be operational to allow the car to run. Officials say 53% of drivers have never heard of immobilizers, or whether there’s one on their newer model cars.

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