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Note to Criminals: Prosecutors ‘Not Taking Auto Thefts Seriously’

In 2022, the number of stolen cars in the United States is expected to surpass 1 million for the first time, shattering previous records and law enforcement struggling to keep up.

According to data from , more than 745,000 vehicles were stolen nationwide in the first nine months of 2022. National Insurance Crime BureauThis was the most stolen in the first nine months since 2008, a 24% increase from pre-pandemic levels. NICB Said.

of bureau estimates that stolen vehicles will be worth over $6.6 billion this year.

Police say the number of stolen cars is much higher than reported. Tom WeitzelThe recently retired Chicago suburban police chief in Riverside, Illinois, said it would be difficult to establish a car theft charge without eyewitness testimony or video evidence from the suspect who stole the car. Officers must pursue misdemeanors such as trespassing.

“Courts and prosecutors certainly don’t take auto theft seriously. Unless it’s an extra-fee carjacking, it’s not considered a violent crime, and the insurance company pays the victim.” he Said. “This really skews the numbers from both prosecutors and police who are downplaying crime because they know it doesn’t last long.”

But even if the police and courts are faking the numbers like Trump. Weitzel That said, the numbers in major cities across the country are shocking.

Auto thefts in Denver are up 15% from the same time last year, showing a staggering 178% jump compared to 2019 and 80% compared to 2020.

New York City experienced a 32% surge in car thefts, with 12,901 cars stolen through December 11, compared with 9,757 during the same period last year.

According to police in Memphis, Tennessee, 9,600 auto thefts were reported in the first 11 months of 2022, an average of about 30 per day. This is a 100% increase compared to the same period last year.

Things are so bad in Memphis that the police are handing out hundreds of freewheel locks.

Car thefts in Chicago increased nearly 100% in the first 50 weeks of the year, with 19,784 cars stolen compared to 9,933 in the same period last year.

Mr WeitzelChicago’s surge in auto thefts has spread to the suburbs, said a man who is currently advising police departments. he In Cook County, Illinois, where Chicago is located, hundreds of cars are stolen every night.

“It’s never happened before. It’s very contagious.” he Said.

Since the 1990s, vehicle thefts have been trending downward in the 2010s. However, since June 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, car theft rates have increased every month. NICBdata.

Even more frustrating for police is the increasing violence of car thieves. This month in Denver, a suspected car theft shot a police officer in the neck during an arrest.

Police say most thieves use the cars to commit other crimes and leave them unscathed, unlike previous vehicle thefts where parts were removed from the stolen cars.

Betsy Brandtner-Smith, spokeswoman for the National Police Association, said the only way to end the surge was for crime-flexible prosecutors to pursue tougher penalties for auto thieves.

“If someone was prosecuting like they used to spend five to ten years in prison, people would stop doing it. People get punished because they don’t.How does that stop you from doing what you’re doing?”

Police also said the police’s efforts to work with fewer resources and personnel played a large part of the problem. rearranged to investigate.

The Washington State Patrol said this month it would lure four officers from its multi-agency task force covering vehicle theft because there aren’t enough detectives to handle other cases. Since 2017, his four detectives have recovered 921 of his stolen vehicles worth more than $13 million and contributed to 241 arrests.

“Our resources are limited and we have significant responsibilities, so we need to make ongoing adjustments to how we deploy our resources to meet those responsibilities. I think everyone would agree that the response to crime has to take its place,” said Chris Loftus, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol.

Through November, an average of 80 cars were stolen each day in King and Pierce counties, two jurisdictions patrolled by the task force.

Police in Aurora, Colorado have pulled officers from a statewide task force investigating car thefts, citing a manpower shortage. NICBCar thefts in the state have increased 113% over the past two years, according to data from the Metropolitan Automobile Theft Task Force of Colorado.

Another factor driving the surge in auto theft is the high value of used cars, which is outpacing inflation. Supply chain disruptions, computer chip shortages and pandemic-related hoarding have led to a shortage of new cars and an increase in the value of used cars. As a result, more intact vehicles are being sold on the black market, police said. This is especially true for full-size pickups and other vehicles.

Of particular interest to thieves these days are car catalytic converters, which can steal as much as $250 in precious metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Catalytic converter theft has become such a problem in Philadelphia that the city council passed a bill this month to curb the surge. The bill bans the sale of partial catalytic converters and imposes a 90-day prison sentence for anyone convicted of stealing them.

Police also say that too many people leave their vehicles unprotected, creating an attractive opportunity for thieves. Some drivers keep the car running with it. Other drivers have left their keys in their visors or cup holders.

Auto thieves are also getting more sophisticated, using technology to reprogram keyless vehicles so they can be opened without damaging them.

Mr Weitzel Keyless technology has made thieves much harder to catch.

“Police on patrol are trained to identify stolen vehicles by looking for many damages, such as broken windows, but if there is no damage, the police won’t even notice it.” he Said.

Automakers have responded with biometric readers that require a fingerprint or iris scan of the car owner to start the vehicle. However, this technology is not yet standard. Note to Criminals: Prosecutors ‘Not Taking Auto Thefts Seriously’

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