Impressed with the program's success in the San Fernando Valley and other parts of the city, Los Angeles Police Department officials said Tuesday that they will soon expand an anti-car theft program citywide.
Police say the Combat Auto Theft, or CAT, program operates more as a deterrent than as a way to catch auto thieves. Now in operation in eight police divisions, the program will be expanded to the department's 17 divisions by late fall or early winter, said Sgt. Christopher West of the department's Crime Prevention Section, which is coordinating the citywide effort.
In the CAT program, yellow decals issued to motorists allow police to pull over the vehicles between 1 and 5 a.m., when most cars are not in use and when police say most auto thefts occur.
About 60 cars are stolen per day in the Valley.
Police said the decision to expand is largely based on the program's popularity in the Valley's five divisions, although Harbor, Pacific and West L. A. divisions are also on line.
While no prosecutions have occurred in the Valley as of yet, police believe that the decals have had a psychological impact.
Detective Bob Graybill with the San Fernando Valley Auto Theft Task Force, Community Effort to Combat Auto Theft (CECAT) program, said the stickers have had an effect on some car thieves.
"What they say is that if they see two cars in the parking lot, say two Hondas, and there's one with a sticker on it, they say, 'I don't know what it is, but I know that the police are going to look at it,' " Graybill said. "So they leave that car alone."
The citywide effort is being funded by the Southern California Automobile Club at a cost of about $17,000, said Carol VanNatter, a police liaison for the organization.