New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced a comprehensive new plan to crack down on auto thefts throughout the five boroughs.
Despite an overall decrease in major crime so far this year, grand larceny auto (GLA) is up approximately 19 percent through August, driven primarily by an increase in the theft of certain Kia and Hyundai models that is not only impacting New York City but the entire nation. That trend — driven in large part by viral social media videos — emerged in the city in September 2022, spiked three months later, and continues to the current day. Mayor Adams’ plan, announced today, includes new enforcement strategies, enhanced collaboration with private and public sector partners, and education efforts by the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety, the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and New York City Small Business Services (SBS).
“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 combatting car thefts in New York City,” said Mayor Adams. “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 car thefts — sending a clear message that if you steal a vehicle in New York City, you will be held accountable.”
“Car thefts are more than just stolen property; they represent a shattered peace of mind, financial hardship, and a loss of freedom,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip 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.”
“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 A. 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.”
“A safer city means a stronger economy,” said SBS Commissioner Kevin D. 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 thefts. SBS stands ready to spread the message and help educate business owners contribute to our mission to make New York the leader in halting auto theft.”
Every NYPD precinct now has a dedicated GLA radio motor patrol car outfitted with two mobile license plate readers that will be on patrol 24/7 and will serve as a liaison to the existing detective squads within the confines of each precinct. Additionally, the NYPD has assigned a GLA coordinator within its Crime Analysis Unit to enhance data collection on stolen or lost vehicles and arrest tracking.
The newly deployed GLA response vehicles will scan known active hotspot locations and recovery locations within their command to identify potential stolen vehicles and reduce response times by patrol cars when responding to calls for stolen vehicles. To further the NYPD’s GLA investigative efforts, officers deployed to GLA response vehicles will:
- Enhance the quality of GLA investigations by increasing evidence collection through broader video recovery and greater canvassing of potential witnesses following a car theft.
- Ensure near real-time notifications are made to the NYPD’s interconnected license plate readers’ alert system following a confirmed report of a vehicle theft, enabling the NYPD’s more than 250 license plate readers throughout the city to provide department-wide updates on a stolen vehicle’s location and trigger a swift response.
- Receive advanced training to ensure proper charges are made against arrestees, including the removal of desk appearance tickets being issued for GLAs.
- Utilize license plate readers to proactively scan impound lots, scrap yards, and known hot-spot areas for stolen vehicles.
- Increase surveillance of recovered vehicles after the NYPD’s evidence collection team processes potential evidence in the event that a perpetrator returns to the vehicle.
In line with the NYPD’s precision policing strategies, the collaborative new plan includes enhanced investigative tactics and the assignment of additional investigators to gather, analyze, and operationalize intelligence to combat car theft. The added personnel will aid in the Auto Crime Unit’s work to discern trends in vehicle-related crimes, identify and suppress recidivism, and stop the kind of violent crimes that are being facilitated by the use of stolen vehicles. The Auto Crime Unit’s intelligence sharing — across NYPD bureaus and all five boroughs — will enable the NYPD to better identify patterns, hone in on problematic conditions and locations, and develop timely, intelligence-driven deployment plans to knock down auto theft where it occurs.
In line with Mayor Adams’ overall approach to utilizing state-of-the art technology to enhance public safety operations, the Auto Crime Unit will continue to utilize all of the tools at its disposal and work in real time with the NYPD’s Auto Larceny Units in the field to assure successful outcomes and a safer city.
Today’s plan also includes an unprecedented proactive educational strategy to help combat GLAs throughout New York City. Mayor Adams, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Banks, and SBS Commissioner Kim convened a group of representatives of the auto dealer industry, including the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association (GNYADA), to implement strategies that will educate vehicle owners and consumers throughout the five boroughs. Efforts include:
- Proactively educating consumers about car thefts and encouraging new vehicle owners to install tracking devices in their automobiles at the time of sale as an effective and affordable anti-car theft measure.
- Partnering with the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association and Spectrum TV to roll out a new public service announcement with important information and safety tips to prevent car thefts.
- Conducting educational outreach at auto shows and events throughout the city, including at the New York International Auto Show.
- Utilizing robocalls from Mayor Adams and NYPD Commissioner Caban to New Yorkers in hotspot precincts about the importance of locking vehicles and not leaving keys in them unattended.
- Placing large billboards with educational information on them for vehicle owners near hot-spot locations.
Additionally, the NYPD has partnered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to proactively notify owners of specific vehicle makes and models that crime trends indicate are being targeted for GLAs so they can take steps to protect their property. This outreach will include both digital and door-to-door contact with important educational information.
The plan also calls for enhanced collaboration between all relevant law enforcement and community partners to achieve reductions in auto theft. As part of the administration’s upstream efforts to prevent car thefts, the NYPD will work closely with violence interrupters, school administrators, New York State Family Court, and the New York City Department of Probation to conduct proactive outreach to individuals with multiple recent arrests for GLAs, as well as conduct home visits of juveniles with multiple car theft arrests, to proactively deter future involvement with GLAs. Conducting outreach to young people is critically important as more than half (51.4) percent of those arrested for GLAs since September 2022 have been under the age of 18 and 88.4 percent are under the age of 25.
Earlier this year, Mayor Adams, the NYPD, and the Association for A Better New York (ABNY) announced the donation of 500 Apple AirTags by ABNY to the city for distribution to the public in an effort to crack down on the uptick in GLAs. New Yorkers with an AirTag — which is a quarter-sized bluetooth tracker designed by Apple to help people keep tabs on valuables or frequently lost items — or other similar inexpensive item can hide these devices in their vehicles and allow them to track down an automobile if stolen.
Additionally, in June, Mayor Adams and the New York City Department of Law announced that the city joined ongoing national litigation against car manufacturers Kia and Hyundai in an effort to hold the two companies accountable for refusing to equip certain models of both cars with standard anti-theft measures following an uptick in car thefts. That suit is ongoing.
“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+ local franchised new car retailers wherever we can,” said GNYADA president Mark Schienberg.
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