The number of car thefts reported to police during 2005 across Japan went down 20.4 percent from the previous year to 46,728, dipping below the 50,000 line for the first time since 1999, according to the National Police Agency.

Car thefts surged from about 36,000 in 1998 to a peak of about 64,000 in 2003. “Enhanced parking security and other theft prevention efforts by both the public and private sectors paid off,” an NPA official said.

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