Car thefts in 2022 exceed monthly figures for 2021
AUSTIN, TX – Citywide auto theft in 2022 continued to top 2021 numbers every month.
“The numbers have gone up every year I’ve been in auto theft,” said Detective Francisco Jimenez, who has worked with APD’s auto theft unit for about three years.
A July study analyzed more than 250,000 tweets from people posting information about their car being stolen in locations around the world. Austin was ranked the second worst city in the United States with 1,975 tweets related to car theft.
However, in another 2022 study based on National Insurance Crime Bureau data, Austin did not make the top 10.
Looking only at ODA figures, there was an increase between 2022 and 2021.
According to the Chief’s Monthly Reports, car theft increased 23% citywide in July 2022 compared to July 2021. It increased 28% in June, 31% in May and 44% in April.
Det. Jimenez pointed out some recent trends car owners need to be aware of.
Criminals use fake IDs to buy cars in someone else’s name and then turn a profit, often on sites like Facebook Marketplace.
“It’s a new trend,” Det said. Jimenez. “It’s something that I guess, originally we saw more in Houston, and it kind of migrated up here.”
This also happens in car rental companies.
“We had one recently where it was a scam rental that was rented out in Austin but then sold on Craigslist in San Antonio,” Det. Jimenez. “It was a $40,000 truck that sold for $20,000.”
Detective Jimenez noted that Dodge Hellcats are often the target of various identification scams.
“We’ve seen people with airport flights where people were using locksmiths and basically lying to the locksmiths, telling them, ‘That’s my vehicle, I’ve lost my keys’ and showing some sort of fake ID card. insurance, then having a locksmith make a key for them.”
Another trend, thanks to a recent TikTok challenge, is targeting Kias because they can be stolen using a USB charger.
When it comes to preventing theft, Det. Jimenez encourages car owners to never leave a car running. He also said to make sure you have insurance for trailers and RVs as they are often targeted, and if possible, add a GPS or tracking device.
He also encouraged those looking for a used car to beware.
“If you see a vehicle that’s below market value, it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a stolen vehicle,” Det. Jimenez. “If they ask for money, they ask you to meet at their apartment complex or at a Walmart on a Saturday night, it’s likely to be a fraudulent transaction.”
Det. Jimenez said license plate readers can help officers track stolen vehicles. Currently, the City of Austin is considering reinstating license plate readers.
Council members were supposed to approve a resolution directing the city manager to identify funds to reinstate the program on Wednesday, but that item was postponed until September 1.