Southern California breaking news and trends

Why cars are stolen; other car theft lessons

Honda Accord

Yoder PD

Got one of these? Then get a club, because they're remarkably easy to steal.

Despite otherwise average-to-low crime rates this year, the Hollenbeck division, which includes Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and El Sereno, is in the midst of an inexplicable car theft binge. Compared to this time last year (which had record low car theft rates), grand theft auto is up 43 percent. 

Some weeks have been so bad they left police in the division wondering if every car they passed on the street had been stolen. Why the binge? No one really knows, but police in the area have cracked down, and the numbers seem to be dwindling.

Meanwhile, what's especially interesting is what detectives have found about why cars are stolen. 

Most stolen vehicles turn up again, and usually pretty quickly. Some have been stripped of rims, or sound systems, or parts, but most are pretty much unscathed when they turn up. Which leads police to believe that stealing cars, for some people, is just a form of transportation. 

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Lenny Dykstra strikes out in L.A. court, sentenced to three years in state prison

Dykstra Charges Baseball

Nick Ut/AP

Former baseball player Lenny Dykstra, left, is led into a courtroom in San Fernando, Calif., Thursday, June 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Lenny Dykstra, the former fielder for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, was immediately taken into custody after being sentenced Monday in a Los Angeles courtroom to three years in state prison.

The Santa Ana-born lefty pleaded no contest to grand theft auto and filing a false financial statement in connection with a plot to lease high-end cars from several area dealerships using fraudulent paperwork, according to court records.

The judge rejected his last minute efforts to change the "no contest" plea and fight the charges, the L.A. Times reported.

In delivering the sentence, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ulfig said the effort to steal cars showed "sophistication, planning." And prosecutors had argued that he did not exhibit any remorse toward his victims. "Mr. Dykstra might not believe he is a criminal, but his actions have been criminal," she said, invoking baseball terminology such as "strikes" and "home run" to underscore her point.

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