L■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
ast Tuesday, Chief John Salisbury of the San Jacinto Police Department introduced the Riverside Auto Theft Interdiction Detail (RAID) to City Council for a letter of support toward an increase in their licensing fees.
Task force commander Lt. Mario Lucio from California Highway Patrol and Sergeant Sean Brown from the Riverside County Sheriff’s office stopped by San Jacinto on their way to 28 other cities seeking additional support to urge the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to improve the increase of Riverside County vehicle license fees by $1.
The multi-jurisdictional law enforcement auto-theft task force is made up of a lieutenant (CHP), a sergeant (RSO), 10 detectives and investigators (3 CHP, 2 RSO, Riverside PD, Riverside County DA, DOI, and NICB), an RSO office assistant, and an RSO accountant.
RAID is responsible for the aggressive pursuit of vehicle theft suspects, timely investigative assistance to local law enforcement, chop shop and 2805 CVC investigations (right to inspect), providing investigative training to local law enforcement, and conducting public awareness campaigns.
Since the very inception of RAID in 1993, it has been funded by 9250.14 CVC. That has not changed over the 24-year history of the task force.
During the fiscal year of 1993-1994, RAID generated an estimated revenue of $750,109. By fiscal year 2015-2016 revenue had increased by 27 percent with an estimated revenue of $957,251.
Senate Bill 2139 created section 9250.14 VC in order to allow counties to obtain $1 per registered vehicle to investigate, deter, and prosecute vehicle theft activity.
Today, 70 percent of the salary and benefits of investigators and detectives assigned to RAID are covered through task force funds with the exception of CHP, DOI, and NICB. Fifty percent of the generated revenue also goes to RAID, while the other half is distributed to the DA’s office.
AB 767, legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would increase the motor vehicle fee from $1 to $2.
“We feel an additional $1 is sufficient to increasing our funding at an appropriate level,” said Task force commander Lucio.
The bill is currently pending resolution by county boards of supervisors.
Counties that have already increased their auto theft fees include Marin, Sonoma, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Solano, Kings, Los Angeles, Alameda, Santa Clara, Napa, and San Bernardino. While Los Angeles County is the leading surrounding county of auto thefts with 50,432 last year, San Bernardino County follows behind with 13,082, San Diego with 12,207, and Riverside County beating out Orange County’s 8,752 auto thefts with 11,920. Riverside’s auto theft rate has increased by 5.81 percent over the prior year.
According to RAID’s data, nearly 32 vehicles are stolen per day in Riverside County; one every 44 minutes. Last year, Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario County areas ranked number 5 on the Top 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas by Vehicle Theft Rate listing nationwide.
Because of RAID’s services last year, of the 185,857 vehicles stolen statewide, 168,608 were recovered. Some 10,709 of those vehicles were from Riverside County. No fewer than 289 were in San Jacinto. So far this year, 133 vehicles in San Jacinto have been reported stolen.
RAID’s argument for increased funding is that it would cover salaries and benefits by 80 percent, it would provide a full-time supervisor on the East Team, additional full-time task force members, advanced technological and investigative equipment upgrades and purchases, confidential investigative fund increases like undercover operations, and provide community outreach and public education materials.
“[Street thieves] are getting smarter, and our investigations are getting more time-consuming,” explained Lucio. “We need more personnel out there.”
According to RAID, their ultimate goal is to “protect the property (vehicles) of our hard-working county residents by targeting professional vehicle thieves.”
“I can tell you that the RAID task force contributes to [solving] our problem here in the Valley on a daily basis,” Chief Salisbury told City Council.
With a glowing recommendation from the Chief of Police, the City Council approved a letter of support to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors for RAID’s increase in licensing fees.
L■ Kyle Selby / Reporter