Car Theft Is Out Of Control (Miami isn’t the worst, but we’re up there)

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Car Theft Spirals Out Of Control — Everywhere

The news isn’t good. and if you own a luxury automobile, keep it locked and don’t leave it in a public lot overnight. Your vehicle may quickly become a target. The fact is — motor vehicles were stolen at a rate of 246.0 per 100,000 people in 2020, the highest rate since 2009, when the rate was 259.2. The 2020 rate was up from 220.8 in 2019.

Bottom line: If you think your car may not be safe in that parking space, it probably isn’t.

The spike is unprecedented. In Washington state, law enforcement reported that vehicle thefts are up 88 percent in just the first three months of 2022 compared to 2021: 12,569 so far this year compared to just 6,692 in the first three months of the last year. Over in New Jersey, thefts are up 31 percent. In Miami, we’ve seen a recent spike in stolen vehicles at a South Florida airport, and police say the thieves are targeting a certain type of vehicle — and there’s plenty to choose from. There are Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Lamborghini and Rolls Royce, even mix in a McLaren. You can see them every day in the parking garage at Miami International Airport. Dale Swedberg, the owner of a recently stolen SUV at MIA said, “I would think it would be a hard place to steal a vehicle, but evidently, it’s not.”

Amazingly — truly amazingly — data shows that in many cases, car owners leave their key fobs in their cars, rendering them unlocked —  making theft very simple. The criminals are feasting…

  • Nationwide data isn’t available yet for 2022, but law enforcement agencies report vehicle thefts are up 88 percent in Washington and 31 percent in New Jersey. We’ll keep you posted.
  • The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that full-size trucks from Ford and Chevy were the most stolen vehicles in 2020.
  • The Honda Accord and Civic took the next two spots, per NICB.

Auto Theft: On the rise

The increases are part of a years-long trend, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), which notes that nationwide car thefts were up 16.5 percent in 2021 relative to 2019 figures (though that falls to an approximately 5 percent increase in thefts relative to 2020 figures, per our calculations). David Glawe, the president and chief executive officer of NICB, testified in front of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary about the increased thefts, as well as a rise in carjackings, earlier this year. During his testimony, Glawe recommended the Committee find a way to collect national data on carjackings, as there currently is not a single definition of that act used by law enforcement agencies across the country.

Auto Theft: The usual victims

NICB last released its statistics for the vehicles most likely to be stolen in the U.S. back in October of 2021, reporting that full-size trucks from Ford and Chevrolet were the most stolen vehicles in 2020. The Honda Accord and Civic were the next most stolen vehicles on the list. The organization recommended four main ways to prevent vehicles from getting stolen (or at least make it easier to recover): use common sense (i.e., don’t leave your keys in the ignition), use a warning device, install an immobilizing device, and install a tracking device.

Auto Theft: A national epidemic in 2022

NICB, which collects data on auto thefts nationally and across many local jurisdictions, found that car thefts nationwide increased by 16.5% in 2021 compared to 2019 and nearly 29% compared to 2017. Colorado, for example, experienced 79% more auto thefts in 2021 compared to 2019, and Wisconsin had 74% more auto thefts over the same period. Additionally, the total volume of thefts between 2019 and 2021 was staggering. California, for example, saw over 200,000 auto thefts in 2021 compared to 160,000 in 2019.

More alarmingly, many large cities have experienced triple digit increases in carjackings. Unlike auto theft, a carjacking involves violent confrontation with an offender or the perceived threat of violence that could cause death or serious bodily injury. Some of the largest increases in carjacking trends between 2019 and 2021 occurred in:

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

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