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If there were a real-life Batman roaming the streets of Gotham City (aka New York City), maybe car theft would be down in NYC. As it is, we’re currently seeing one of the worst surges in this type of theft in the city. What’s worse is that some thieves have taken their crimes to social media, showing they have no regard for authority or potential punishments associated with these crimes.

How much has car theft risen in NYC?

Car theft is one of the worst problems in NYC
Car Theft in Progress | Shutterstock

Fox News reports data released by the New York City Police Department showing Grand Larceny Auto increased 51.1% as of June 5 compared to the same time period in 2021. The total number of incidents is 5,420 for 2022 so far, which is a significant increase. Over the course of an entire year, the spike is 50.1%, with 20,659 incidents reported to the NYPD compared to 13,713 during the same rolling 12-month period a year ago.

Is this increase more or less than the overall crime?

The spike in car theft in NYC isn’t out of line compared to overall transit crime. Overall, crime has surged 53.6% this year, making it one of the worst crime years in New York City in a long time.

Some car thefts in NYC could have been prevented

An Empty Car with Keys in the Ignition is an invitation for a car thief
Empty Car with Keys in the Ignition | Shutterstock

In a large city like New York, you might think that drivers would be more cautious and lock their vehicles more diligently, but that’s not the case. Fox News goes further and reports that nearly 2,200 of the cars stolen were incidents with the engine running and the car unlocked. Most of the time, this meant the keys and/or key fog was left inside. If these owners had simply locked the car, turned off the engine, and taken the keys with them, 40% of the car thefts could have been prevented.

Is Car Theft Common in NYC?

As early as the beginning of March, the uptick in car theft was 94% greater than it was last year. ABC 7 reported the number as of March 10 was 2,454 compared to 1,264 at the same time a year ago. Stolen cars aren’t all that’s on the rise. Car Jackings are already up nearly 40%, creating a more violent situation for drivers around NYC.

What is the most stolen car in NYC?

The Ford Econoline is the most often stolen vehicle in NYC
Ford Econoline | Ford

To some, it might seem odd; to others, it just makes sense, but the most stolen vehicle in NYC is the Ford Econoline van. This was reported by the New York Post in May. A van could be a great vehicle for thieves to head to a secondary location for a robbery, which relates to the uptick in other crimes around NYC.

How many cars are stolen in NYC each year?

Another New York Post report from February tells us there were 9,037 stolen vehicles in NYC in 2020, which was a 66% increase compared to 2019. For 2021, the number was 10,421, which wasn’t a massive jump in the overall numbers. Right now, the city is on pace to surpass the 2021 numbers significantly.

How are these car thieves getting bolder?

The car theft problem in NYC might impact more than the average thief. Christopher Hermann, a former police officer, and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice told Fox News that more young people are stealing cars to go joyriding and putting their escapades on social media. The more support these youngsters receive on these platforms, the more likely they will continue stealing cars.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a real-life Batman to swoop in and put an end to stolen cars in the city. If you live in or travel to NYC, be mindful of these crime stats and either park outside of the city or lock your car and take the keys with you every time you get out, even if it’s only for a few minutes.


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