AZDPS aggressively combats and deters vehicle theft through its significant role in the Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force (AVTTF). The task force is comprised of local, county, state and federal law enforcement detectives whose primary mission is the identification, apprehension and prosecution of individuals and criminal organizations that profit from the theft of motor vehicles and related crimes associated with motor-vehicle theft. The task force also provides subject-matter expertise, training, and investigative support to law enforcement agencies targeting vehicle theft and related crimes.
AZDPS is well represented on the task force. During Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the task force included the following AZDPS personnel: one captain, five civilian support staff, and four sergeants (three in Phoenix and one in southern Arizona). Ten detectives from the department were also assigned to the task force along with four AZDPS border liaison troopers who assist with auto theft investigations in the border region, repatriation projects and training Mexican law enforcement. The rest of those staffing the task force are detectives and/or agents from other agencies.
In FY2016, the task force recovered 1,238 stolen vehicles worth more than $13 million (a four year high for both). The task force also completed 57 business inspections and investigated 24 alleged chop shop operations. Also in FY2016, the task force arrested or charged 252 suspects (a five year high), made 969 agency assists, and provided 24 auto theft training sessions to law enforcement agencies (a five year high).
Training included teaching advanced auto theft investigations to seasoned law enforcement personnel and county attorneys, including case reporting and management, as well as teaching hundreds of local and federal Mexican law enforcement personnel basic stolen vehicle identification techniques in Mexico.
The task force has been experiencing increases in arrests and stolen vehicle recoveries due to its investment in new technologies, especially automatic license plate recognition systems. In addition, the task force has been refining its data-driven policing methodology and adapting its resource deployment to areas with a greater likelihood of success.
Also contributing to the recent success of the task force has been its continuing investment in educating and training its members in the latest auto-theft recovery techniques. Funding for overtime to ensure call-out availability and extended surveillance operations has also increased along with new partnerships with U.S. Customs and Border Protection for responding to and recovering stolen vehicles at ports of entries.
The phone number for the task force where the public can leave anonymous information on stolen vehicles, chop shops, etc. is: 602-223-2364. Information can also be emailed to: [email protected]. The Vehicle Theft Task Force also conducts courtesy stolen vehicle reports for vehicles stolen in Mexico. Those reports may be given at the Vehicle Theft Task Force at the same phone number: 602-223-2364.