Mayor Scott Outlines Updates to Baltimore City's Auto Theft Strategy
Monday Nov 6th, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Multi-pronged approach expands already ongoing prevention, deterrence, enforcement, and legal efforts tocombat growingtrend
BALTIMORE, MD. (Monday, November 6, 2023) — Today, at Baltimore City’s Impound Lot, Mayor Brandon M. Scott and Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Richard Worley joined Baltimore Department of Transportation officials to highlight several updates to Baltimore’s strategy to address increases in auto theft incidents across the city.
While Baltimore has seen significant reductions in violent crime – including a 23 percent decrease in carjacking incidents – there has been a 229 percent increase in stolen auto incidents through October 28, 2023. This increase is part of a nationwide trend in car thefts largely driven by the theft of certain Kia and Hyundai models and the proliferation of online videos demonstrating how to steal these vehicles. Through October 28, approximately 9,300 vehicles have been stolen in Baltimore City with Kia and Hyundai models making up over 68 percent of these stolen vehicles.
Since late 2022, the Scott Administration has steadily expanded its multi-pronged strategy that combines prevention, deterrence, and enforcement efforts, as well as legal action against negligent manufacturers and increased cross-government collaboration.
“Since we became aware of this trend in late 2022, I have tasked members of my administration with developing and carrying out a multi-pronged strategy designed to mobilize every tool in our toolbox to tackle this issue,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “At every opportunity, we’ve expanded, adapted, and incorporated best practices into our strategy. The updates we’re outlining today are a continuation of that work, which includes prevention, deterrence, enforcement, and the pursuit of legal recourse. We will continue to increase cross-government collaboration and attack the root causes of these issues, so that Baltimoreans can be assured we are addressing rising auto thefts from every possible angle.”
“The BPD is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to solving these crimes by working alongside our many law enforcement partners,” said Commissioner Richard Worley. “We must and will continue to do more to prevent these crimes, while ensuring quick law enforcement action when these incidents occur. Additionally, we will continue to use all the tools available to us to proactively stop the rising wave of car thefts in our city.”
This updated strategy includes new and ongoing efforts to address this issue in line with national best practices and insight from other cities grappling with this broader trend. The comprehensive strategy includes:
- Distributing anti-theft devices to car owners;
- Using data to inform proactive deployment of law enforcement resources to deter property crime
- Securing additional license plate recognition technology to aid law enforcement;
- Holding system upgrade clinics for Kia and Hyundai cars to prevent vehicles from being started through the methods popularized on social media;
- Using digital tracking technology to monitor stolen vehicles;
- Making improvements at the City-owned impound lot to assist victims of auto theft in retrieving their vehicle;
- Holding manufacturers accountable for failing to equip vehicles with industry-standard vehicle immobilization technology to recover damages caused by manufacturer negligence and pressure automobile companies to not cut corners on installing vehicle immobilizers;
- And coordinating with government partners and local stakeholders to address local trends and increases in juvenile-involved auto theft.
Last year, the City of Baltimore removed recovery fees associated with stolen vehicles. Victims of auto theft are able to recover their vehicle from the City-owned lot without cost. Prior to this change, owners of stolen vehicles had to pay $130 to $140 to cover towing costs. Under this new policy, the City has assumed the costs of nearly $250,000 annually that it historically assessed in towing fees for stolen vehicles
In addition, the Scott Administration is exploring local and state legislative initiatives that can help to address auto thefts, including expanding penalties for complicit parents and reforms to home detention monitoring.
The full updated strategy can be found on the City’s website.