The dozen stolen cars that California Highway Patrol Officers Todd Wise and Kevin Scord recovered last year weren't just sitting empty on the side of the road.
They were "rolling stolens"--a term used by police to describe a stolen car still occupied by suspected car thieves.
For repeatedly braving a dangerous situation to recover six stolen vehicles each, Wise and Scord were honored with the 10851 (police jargon for stolen vehicle) Award on Wednesday.
The award recognizes individual officers representing all police agencies in California who help recover the 315,500 vehicles that are stolen annually throughout the state.
Sponsored by the Automobile Club of Southern California, officers must qualify using at least one of three criteria over 12 months:
* Make six separate "rolling stolen" vehicle arrests.
* Recover 12 vehicles, at least three of which must be occupied by a suspect.
* Help bust a car theft ring and recover 10 vehicles, at least two of which must by suspect-occupied.
Wise and Scord were honored during a brief ceremony at the California Highway Patrol headquarters in San Juan Capistrano.
"It's a very dangerous job; you don't really know what you're getting into when you approach one of these vehicles," said Arnie Durel, assistant district manager of the Auto Club's Laguna Hills office. "We feel this award is the least we can do for them."
Durel said the vehicles recovered by the two officers held a total value of $81,000. Of the 315,000 vehicles stolen, some 279,000 are recovered, he added.