The Auto Theft Bureau was formed in 2006 to handle the specialized prosecution of auto theft and auto theft related crimes. These include unlawful use of means, theft of means, “chop shops” including Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) switches, trafficking in stolen vehicles, robberies and armed robberies involving the theft of vehicles. Under a grant from the Arizona Auto Theft Authority, the Bureau provides an attorney to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies as part of a multi-jurisdictional Auto Theft Task Force headquartered at the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS). This attorney actively assists the Task Force with all facets of its auto theft cases, from pre-trial inquiries to final sentencing.
Since the creation of the Auto Theft Bureau, vehicle theft crime rates have dropped precipitously. In Maricopa County in 2010, there were more than 12,000 reported motor vehicle thefts. This is a 20.1% decrease from 2009. The Auto Theft Bureau is also very active with victims’ rights and restitution awards. Over the last two years, the Bureau has succeeded in securing more than $1 million in restitution orders for victims of auto theft.