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Here’s What You Need to Know About Auto Thefts on the Rise

Posted by Alex Godwin-Austen on Aug 16, 2022

The auto theft business is booming. Early 2022 saw 12,569 auto thefts compared to the same period in 2021 which only had 6,692, as reported in Car and Driver. Additionally, data from the Insurance Information Institute (III) shows there have been 246 vehicles per 100,000 people stolen in 2021.

The number of auto thefts is likely to be higher than what’s reported. That’s because law enforcement agencies tend to define carjacking and auto theft differently. This leads to inconsistencies in reporting. It’s an acute problem that David Glawe, the president and chief executive officer of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Glawe provided the Committee with the following six recommendations:

  • Increase community policing programs.
  • Collect national and state data on carjackings.
  • Revise criminal justice reform policies.
  • Focus on violent offenders.
  • Implement early intervention programs.
  • Enforce current laws as written.

“In many jurisdictions, the law as written provides adequate penalties,” says Glawe. “However, certain enforcement or reform policies have effectively nullified these laws, thereby providing little disincentive for criminals to commit these serious offenses.”

Auto Theft Statistics

Sometimes, it’s hard to see the impact of such big numbers. Maybe this tidbit from CarSurance car theft statistics referencing NICB data demonstrates the gravity of the problem. New auto theft in the U.S. happens every 44 seconds. That’s more than 80 auto thefts in one hour.

In giving his testimony, David Glawe discussed the increase in auto thefts and carjackings affecting many cities around the U.S. He went on to explain the connection between auto thefts and other violent crimes. Here are the cities that have seen mortifying triple-digit increases in auto theft and carjacking:

  • New York: 286% increase
  • Philadelphia: 238% increase
  • Chicago: 207% increase
  • Washington, D.C.: 200% increase
  • New Orleans: 159% increase

It’s not just auto theft that is climbing. There’s also the theft of auto parts, namely catalytic converters. It’s been a problem for more than two years with no signs of slowing down. The NICB Informer publication reveals that reported catalytic converter thefts rose 1,215% in 2021 when compared to 2019 and 203% over 2020.

Unfortunately, these thieves are violent. A Texas deputy caught crooks in the middle of a theft. They shot and killed the deputy. The situation is so dire that legislators are taking notice as 35 states have either introduced or carried over legislation related to auto theft crimes.

What’s the cause of the high numbers of catalytic converters and auto thefts? The pandemic is definitely a trigger as it created supply chain problems. Eventually, the automotive industry found itself with a shortage of car parts like computer chips. This affected new vehicle production as companies didn’t have all the parts they needed.

In turn, the cost of new and pre-owned vehicles surged. The economic downturn and signs of an impending recession aren’t helping matters. The article from the Insurance Information Institute references two more factors propelling the increase in auto thefts. These factors consist of the decrease in public safety problems and budgets, as well as the loss of juvenile outreach programs.

Criminal justice reform policies are causing more problems than they are helping because the policies caused a reduction in the police workforce and resources as confirmed in the NICB Informer publication. David Glawe’s recommendations address these gaps.

Despite legislators working on passing laws to curb auto and catalytic converter thefts, businesses can’t wait around for these changes to happen. They must take steps to cut catalytic converter and auto thefts.

Auto Thefts in Buffalo, Washington, and New Jersey

It’s not just the big metropolitan cities struggling with the sheer number of auto thefts. It affects many locations. Here are three examples. The Buffalo News quotes a police lieutenant who says the city is dealing with an unprecedented amount of auto thefts. The article indicates auto thefts in the Buffalo area have soared by 80% year over year. Unfortunately, modern auto technology like keyless entry and remote starters have made it easier to steal.

Many auto thefts occur because of owner neglect. They leave the doors unlocked or the key fob in the vehicle. Despite this, auto thieves still have advanced tools for hacking into cars. They use transmitters to create key fob signals to break in and start locked vehicles.

Similarly, FOX Seattle reports Washington has seen auto thefts jump by 88% in 2022 compared to the previous year. The state’s data matches the trends presented as they’ve had almost 6,700 auto thefts in the first three months in 2021. In this same time frame, they’ve already recorded more than 12,500 auto thefts for 2022.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) attributes the substantial increase to the changing laws. Lawmakers created new laws in response to police brutality in hopes of improving standards for police use of force and accountability. WASPC says the changes in the laws related to pursuits are causing problems. The graph in the FOX article clearly shows a sharp increase after the law change occurred.

Shore News Network testifies that auto thefts have jumped by 31% in New Jersey. Like in Washington, New Jersey police cannot engage in high-speed pursuits. Criminals know they will get out of jail quickly because auto theft is not defined as a violent crime.

Like David Glawe’s testimony, the acting attorney general stated that police analysis shows a strong connection between auto thefts and shootings. Out of the 377 shootings, 211 were committed by those arrested for theft.

“The New Jersey State Police has been dedicated in our efforts to curb this growing trend but the increase in motor vehicle thefts cannot be denied,” says Colonel Patrick J. Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “The public has to realize this is a very real and very dangerous problem that has implications far beyond the initial theft of a vehicle and carries into the realm of violent crime.”

One word has popped up in many of these auto theft stories: brazen. Do not try to pursue these thieves. They may be dangerous. Fortunately, there’s a safer way to help protect the vehicles in your parking lot or dealerships.

Implement Remote Video Surveillance

Just like the police cannot engage in pursuits, security guards cannot either. In fact, they can’t always have a gun or chase after suspects. States have different requirements for security guard training if they even require it. The training security guards receive is a drop in the bucket compared to what police officers go through with their training.

Security guards cannot view and patrol the entire property at the same time. That would require hiring multiple security guards, which quickly becomes cost prohibitive. Criminals could quickly notice a gap in security and take advantage. Plus, thieves are growing more violent and surprising a security guard is not likely going to end well.

This is why companies are opting for security technologies like video surveillance with remote monitoring. The advantage of security cameras with virtual monitoring have over traditional alarm systems and security guards is that you have trained monitoring operators who can engage with the intruder without fearing for their lives. The operators are not located on your property.

The way remote video monitoring works is that a security expert can install high-definition video security cameras in strategic locations around the property. The use of high-definition surveillance cameras can help ensure the video recordings can make out faces and other information that could lead to an arrest. In many cases, existing cameras can be used.

Remote video surveillance contains multiple layers of security beginning with the appearance of security cameras. Some thieves will leave when they spot them. For those that don’t, trained security operators watching the cameras can track their movements and take action.

As previously mentioned, the monitoring operators are located in a separate building away from your business. Whenever they see a potential problem, they can issue a warning through on-site speakers.

If the intruders continue with their insidious plans, then the operator can call the police while following the suspects. The monitoring operators can provide information, video recordings, and details to help the police with the case. Unlike security guards, surveillance cameras with trained monitoring operators can view the entire property simultaneously.

Traditional security systems are reactive. They don’t do anything until something happens first. By the time something happens, it’s often too late. Security cameras with remote monitoring can help catch things before anything occurs or while it’s occurring. This partnership of cameras, monitoring operators, and video analytics has a greater chance of catching criminals in the act.

Video surveillance offers many more benefits besides deterring crime. They can help with liability claims and find opportunities for improving operations. Liability cases are hard to win without evidence. Thanks to the video recordings, you’ll have evidence you need to show that your business isn’t liable.

Every industry has different remote video surveillance requirements. Be sure you look for a company with experience in your industry. It will help increase your choices of optimizing your investment and seeing a faster ROI.

For specific information on security for your industry, select the article of interest:

To learn more about video surveillance with remote monitoring, pick up this guide on Security Systems 101. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.