With grand larceny autos up about 19 percent this year, Mayor Eric Adams last week announced a plan to combat such thefts. Most of that spike is partially credited to the social media “Tik-Tok Auto Theft Challenge.”
That challenge inspired teens to steal Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Adams’ plan would combat car thefts committed by the so-called “Kia boys.”
“Violent crime is down in New York, but this administration isn’t going to stop there. Today, we are announcing bold action that takes a 360-degree approach to combating car thefts in New York City,” the mayor said Sept. 6.
“This comprehensive plan focuses on enforcement, education, partnerships, and outreach to help us leave car thefts in the dust. Our administration is serious about New Yorkers’ safety, and today we are taking control of the wheel to bring down our car thefts— sending a clear message that if you steal a vehicle in New York City, you will be held accountable.”
Crime stats for the 50th Precinct show that grand larcenies are up from last year. There have been 252 such crimes in the precinct this year. For the same point last year, there were 189, perhaps giving some merit that the “Kia boys” may have caused a spike.
According to a news release, the mayor said every precinct in the city now has a “dedicated GLA (grand larceny auto) radio motor patrol car” containing two mobile license plate readers. These response vehicles will be on patrol 24/7 and will communicate with detective squads within their respective precinct.
These vehicles will scan known active hotspot locations and recovery locations, like impound lots and scrap yards, to identify potential stolen vehicles. The objective is to reduce the response times for patrol cars when reacting to reports of stolen vehicles.
Following confirmation of a stolen vehicle, real-time notifications will go out through the New York Police Department’s interconnected license plate readers’ alert system allowing the New York Police Department’s 250 plus license plate readers to provide updates on a stolen vehicle’s location, and therefore create a swift response.
“The NYPD’s plan to combat the rise in vehicle thefts is another product of our focused vision for a safer New York City,” said NYPD commissioner Edward Caban. “We will never stop fighting for victims — this is what New Yorkers expect from their police department, this is what they deserve, and this is what we are going to deliver.”
Mayor Adams, deputy mayor for public safety Philip Banks III, and Small Business Services commissioner Kevin Kim also gathered representatives from the auto dealer industry so that they can implement strategies to educate their customers.
“The retail automobile industry in metro New York is pleased to partner with the mayor and commend him for taking a leadership role on this important issue, and we are committed to working together through the Auto Show and our 400 plus local franchised new car retailers wherever we can,” said Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association.
Spectrum TV has also partnered with the administration by releasing a public service announcement with car theft prevention tips. In addition to educating customers about car thefts, car dealers will also encourage customers to install tracking devices in their vehicles when they purchase their vehicles as an anti-car theft measure.
“A safer city means a stronger economy,” said Kim. “By building stronger partnerships between city government and local businesses, we can tackle the auto theft challenge from all angles and help New Yorkers avoid being the next target in this nationwide wave of theft.”
The news release also stated they will work closely with violence interrupters, school administrators, New York state family court, and the New York city probation department to do proactive outreach to those with recent arrests for grand larceny.
Reaching out to young people is particularly important to the NYPD because more than half of the arrests made for grand larcenies since September 2022 were minors. This time period is in sync when the “Tik-Tok Auto Theft Challenge” made its way to the city. About 51 percent of those arrests were under 18 and 88 percent under 25, the news release stated.
“Car thefts are more than just stolen property; they represent a shattered peace of mind, financial hardship, and a loss of freedom,” said Banks III.
“We are coming at this issue from both sides — education and enforcement — so that no New Yorker has to suffer the consequences of having their vehicle stolen. We’re putting would-be car thieves on notice, we’re arming car owners with the information they need to protect themselves, and together we will put an end to these trends.”