Robert F. Bukaty, Associated Press
WEST VALLEY CITY — A four-day operation aimed at cracking down on stolen vehicles in the Salt Lake Valley wrapped up late last week.
From Oct. 22-25, West Valley City police recovered 29 stolen vehicles, three stolen engines and four stolen guns. The majority of the cars recovered were Honda Civics, said West Valley Police Sgt. Jason Hauer.
Unified police, the Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division, Salt Lake City police, South Salt Lake police, North Salt Lake police and the Utah Department of Public Safety also participated in the operation.
Thirty-seven people were arrested for investigation of felony charges, and 16 were arrested for investigation of various misdemeanors. Their booking charges ranged from possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of a firearm by a restricted person to drug-related crimes, Hauer said.
Anyone associated with a stolen vehicle, whether they were the passenger or the person who allegedly drove off with the car, was rounded up, he said.
The people who were arrested were "not necessarily" working with each other. Rather, Hauer said those arrested were believed to be working independently and were not involved in an organized ring.
Hauer said some of the 29 stolen vehicles were recovered in "chop shops," some were abandoned, and police found some with the suspects still inside. He said most of the vehicles were recovered either by investigators developing information or patrol officers running checks on license plates.
In August, Salt Lake City police reported that 450 Honda vehicles had been stolen in the city since the beginning of the year. The National Insurance Crime Bureau lists the 1996 Honda Accord as the most stolen vehicle in Utah, followed by the 1997 Honda Civic and 1994 Nissan Sentra.
Honda Civics, particularly 1994 to 2000 models, have been one of the top stolen cars in Utah for many years.
Salt Lake City police reported in August that in many of the cases they were seeing, people were stealing them to joyride or for transportation. Investigators were also looking into whether some of the vehicles were stolen to be used to commit another crime.
Motor Vehicles Enforcement spokesman Charlie Roberts said Honda Civics typically have a high rate of being stolen because they are "easy to tear down," and once they are dismantled in a chop shop, the parts are worth more than the whole car, he said.
Illegal street racers also typically target Hondas, Roberts said, because of the interchangeable parts and because they burn out their own engines racing.
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