According to figures released by the state attorney general's office, motor vehicle thefts in San Joaquin County increased nearly 15 percent in 2004. That's six times more than the increase statewide.
Stockton Police Department Spokesman Sean Fenner, says some of the thefts were committed by drug users needing money for a fix, but most of the 76-hundred vehicles stolen last year were simply "crimes of opportunity".
"What we see primarily in the Stockton-San Joaquin County area is just basically joy riding. They steal the cars just to drive from one place to the other and they dump it."
Detective Dan Pasquale of the Tracy Police Department says anti-theft devices that lock the steering wheel, deter thieves.
"If they see one with a club on it, they're probably going to go to another one, because it's easier to steal."
A Central Valley insurance agent says those who drive the older models that are most vulnerable to theft are likely paying higher premiums.