Vehicle and catalytic converter thefts and carjackings have continued to plague many cities in the United States since the start of the pandemic.
New analysis from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the insurance industry’s association dedicated to predicting, preventing, and prosecuting insurance crime, shows these trends continuing through the remainder of 2022.
Nearly half a million vehicles were stolen in the first half of 2022 (as of June 30), equating to an estimated $4.5 billion dollars’ worth of vehicle losses from thefts. This represents a 25% increase over the vehicle theft total reported for the first half of the year in 2019.
NICB estimates 100,000 more vehicles will have been stolen by the end of 2022 in comparison to pre-pandemic totals.
“There is very little deterrent to stopping these criminals because vehicle thefts are property crimes,” said David Glawe, President and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “Since the start of the pandemic, used car prices have increased 35 to 40 percent. Criminals are exploiting these high prices as vehicle and catalytic converter thefts are crimes of opportunity. And crime is a business, and business is good.”
According to NICB, the U.S. is seeing the highest vehicle theft numbers since 2008, with no hopes for a downward trend anytime soon.
Some cities with the largest increases between the first half of 2019 and the first half of 2022 include:
- Denver, CO: 155% increase
- Philadelphia, PA: 106% increase
- Austin, TX: 64% increase
Separately, catalytic converter thefts have increased 1,215% nationwide since 2019, and carjackings have increased 160% to over 500% in some major cities since 2019.
“To stop this lawlessness, we must focus our attention on these criminals and take back our streets,” Glawe said. “We must re-invest in our law enforcement.”
Earlier in 2022, Glawe testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and offered six policy recommendations to help address the staggering crime statistics, including increasing community policing programs, revisiting well-intentioned criminal justice reform policies, enforcing the laws as written, focusing attention on violent offenders, collecting national and state data on carjackings, and identifying and implementing successful early intervention programs.
President Biden, by way of Executive Order, recently adopted many of NICB’s recommendations.
NICB encourages vehicle owners to consider these tips to avoid becoming a victim of vehicle theft:
- Always practice good security hygiene.
- Make sure your auto policy is up to date.
- Roll up your windows, lock your doors, and take the keys or fob.
- Park in well-lit areas and, when possible, areas staffed by security.
- Park personal vehicles in a garage. If not possible, and vehicles must be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. While lights may not provide complete security, it may make some thieves think twice, making them leave the area and your vehicle untouched.