Stolen car claims in B.C. are down dramatically this year, says the Insurance Corporation of B.C., which is crediting the province's bait-car program for the decline.

ICBC reports stolen vehicle claims were down 30 per cent in the first six months this year, compared to the same periodin 2004, and says if the trend continues,Vancouver will mark its best yearfor car thefts in 20 years.

Laurie Baker, who manages road safety for ICBC, says the start of theimprovement coincided with the introduction of the bait-car program in 2002.

"In 2001, ICBC's customers reported over 5,200 thefts that occurred in Vancouver. In 2005, that had been reduced to about 3,700. So even in the face of an increased population, we're seeing this improvement continue."

She also says there have been theft decreases in other parts of the province where the bait car program has been implemented.

Despite the improvement, Baker cautions that auto theft remains a serious problem, with a car being stolen in B.C. every 20 minutes.She says that's why the Crown corporation is still urging owners to use steering wheel clubs, alarms and immobilizers.