(NewsNation Now) – For many, a car is among the biggest financial investments they will ever make, but car owners in the United States are increasingly at risk of losing their investment after a year that has seen the most large number of vehicle thefts in more than a decade.
Auto thefts saw a dramatic increase in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. This is in part because of the pandemic and the realignment of law enforcement, but the economic downturn, the exhaustion of social and school programs and the complacency of homeowners are also to blame, said David Glawe, president and CEO of NICB in a press release.
“While people are inside stores and spend several hours browsing and queuing, criminals blend into crowded parking lots looking for vehicles containing personal effects or key chains,” said Glawe in the press release. âOnce they find one, if it’s not already unlocked, it only takes 5-10 seconds to smash a window, grab items, and flee the scene without anyone noticing. “
According to the FBI, thieves stole more than 810,000 vehicles in 2020.
California led the states for total theft in 2020 with 187,094. Texas followed with 93,521 and Florida with 44,940. These three states alone accounted for 37% of all thefts nationwide. , according to the NICB.
Although flights in 2020 have increased dramatically nationwide, some saw a drop in the total number of thefts, according to the NICB.
These regions include Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Nevada, Maryland, New Mexico, Alaska, New Jersey, and West Virginia.
Still, New Jersey has seen a substantial increase in thefts since last year alone, state police officer Cory Rodriguez said.
âAuto thefts in 2021 are up more than 21% year-to-date for the total number of thefts and around 44% for high-end vehicles,â Rodriguez said.
A New Jersey resident, who asked not to be identified, said thieves came two weeks ago, just as he entered the yard.
âIt was broad daylight, in the middle of the afternoon, my daughter had just arrived across the street about a minute earlierâ¦â said the resident. “It is starting to strike at home, we are starting to fear for our safety with this type of invasion that takes place … on a daily basis.”
Some New Jersey police officers have cited new laws that will not allow them to prosecute and apprehend stolen vehicles and bail laws as contributors to the rise in vehicle theft.
âWhere you don’t incarcerate people who should be incarcerated, and you let them come back to the streets to revictimize them, this is where the system has failed law enforcement and the good community here in the world. New Jersey, “said Andrew Kudrick Jr., police chief in Howell, New Jersey.
Evan Wexler agrees. The criminals stole his Lamborghini and returned 19 times until he decided to confront them with a semi-automatic weapon.
âSince it happened, I haven’t had someone come in for eight weeks now,â Wexler said. âAt the end of the day it’s a big theft, but guys when they get caught they get a slap on the wrist. Bail reform is probably our biggest problem right now.â
To prevent theft during the holidays, the NICB recommends that car owners take the following precautions:
- Roll up your windows, lock your doors and take the keys or key ring with you
- Park in well-lit areas and, if possible, with security personnel and camera surveillance.
- Keep shopping bags, cell phones, purses and other personal belongings out of sight
- Don’t get distracted – get your keys ready to get into your car and be aware of your surroundings.
- Consider an immobilizer or tracking device for your vehicle.
- If you are faced with a suspect, stay calm and cooperate. Be a good witness and call 911 when you can.
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