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Phoenix auto theft crackdown showing

Phoenix dropped from 8th in the nation in car thefts in 2007 to 19th place last year, leading local authorities to credit new technologies such as license plate readers with the drop in crime.

License plate readers on police cars automatically scan license plate numbers and search online databases for records matches. The readers can pull up information about whether the vehicle is properly registered or stolen and if the owner has auto insurance.

The Arizona republic editorialized last week that state law enforcement agencies should continue to use this and other technologies to keep auto theft rates down, which can lead to a reduction in auto insurance premiums.

The Arizona Automobile Theft Authority recommends etching vehicle serial numbers on windshields as one way to discourage thieves, the paper reported.

Authorities in Oklahoma are working to establish an auto insurance database that law enforcement can access with license plate readers, but the database is incomplete.

Other states and municipalities are moving forward with the technology. In Chicago, the license plate readers have been attached to red light cameras.

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