What is an ATPA

Auto Theft Prevention Authorities

In at least 13 states in the United States, two provinces in Canada and the State of Victoria in Australia, legislatures and governing bodies have created auto theft prevention authorities to help combat auto theft. The purpose of these multi-jurisdictional groups is to deter auto theft by integrating prosecution, prevention and education. In many states and provinces, they provide funding for focused efforts in areas that have the highest rates of auto theft. The primary goal of these various authorities is to combat auto theft through “tough laws, improved enforcement and administration, effective prosecution and public education.

Some of these authorities are funded by assessments required of the insurance companies that write automobile insurance policies in their respective state or province. Several authorities are funded primarily with a small surcharge on drivers’ licenses or registration fees or a fee on vehicles insured in the respective state. Others assess penalties or fees for terminated or lapsed automobile insurance policies, solicit and accept gifts, grants, donations, loans and other assistance from any person or entity, private or public, or the federal, state or local governments. Most state statutes require the governing board of the auto theft prevention authority to ensure that grant money is dedicated solely to auto theft prevention activities. Dedicated, continuous funding of auto theft prevention authorities contributes to their success. The funding sources vary state to state and are typically directed by legislative and governing bodies.

Most of the authorities are governed by a board of directors usually composed of representatives from local prosecuting agencies, insurers, law enforcement agencies and at-large members appointed by the agency head under which the authority operates which usually comprise insurance representatives and consumer representatives.

These auto theft prevention authorities typically incorporate into their plan of operation three focus areas for funding which include:

Law Enforcement/Investigation: Funding is awarded, in most cases, by the authorities to law enforcement to increase the number of assigned investigators; identify and fund updated technology that will assist the investigators in building solid cases to present to prosecutors, and provide continuing education and training for law enforcement personnel.

Prosecution/Conviction: Funding is typically awarded to increase the number of prosecutors for local district attorneys who prosecute auto theft cases; provide additional funding to increase the number of investigators working for local district attorneys who investigate auto theft cases, and support programs through which investigators from local law enforcement and prosecution agencies can better coordinate efforts and share information through improved technology to assist in increasing conviction rates.

Public Awareness/Prevention/Education: Authorities develop and fund creative prevention messaging to raise awareness about auto theft. They develop training programs to teach auto theft prevention techniques to young drivers and they develop programs and sponsor events that provide auto theft prevention tools and information.