Police report 47 vehicles stolen in city already this year

Two men were arrested on auto theft charges as Taft Police work to put an end to an epidemic of vehicle thefts.

Two more vehicles were stolen in Taft last week and through Nov. 7, 47 auto thefts have been reported in the city in 2017, according to Taft Police Department stats.

That's on top of 41 in 2016 and more than double previous years

The outbreak may soon end if police get their way.

The two men were arrested in a parking lot on the 600 block of Center Street and a stolen pickup was recovered just over a block away in a parking area at Eighth and Kern.

"We're going to put an end to this epidemic one way or another," said one Taft Police officer.

The suspects have been identified as Jason James Alfter and Robert James Scott, both 21.

Alfter was charged with two counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, auto theft, possession of burglary tools and possession of a controlled substance.
Scott was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle.

The stolen pickup was towed and stored and a second pickup that officers say hadn't been reported stolen but was possibly linked to the outbreak of thefts was also towed.

In fact, the year to date auto theft total for 2017 of 47 stolen vehicles is already more than double 2014 when 21 were stolen.

Statistics provided by the Taft Police Department show that 27 vehicles were reported stolen in 2011, 37 in 2012, 45 in 2013, 21 in 2014, 26 in 2015 and 41 in 2016.

Chief of police Ed Whiting said he blames the increase in auto thefts on Assembly Bill 109, the prison realignment bill of 2011 that released a large number of state prison inmates and sent convicted criminals into county jails to serve much shorter sentences, and Proposition 47, a 2014 voter initiative that shortened prison sentences even further.

Here are the auto theft statistics from the Taft Police Department:

2011
Stolen – 27
Recovered – 7

2012
Stolen – 37
Recovered – 8

2013
Stolen – 45
Recovered – 14

2014
Stolen – 21
Recovered – 6

2015
Stolen – 26
Recovered – 6

2016
Stolen – 41
Recovered – 11

2017 (To date)
Stolen – 47
Recovered – 16