As Overall Crime Rate Drops, Adams Targets Surging Car Theft Craze

Manhattan is not as hard-hit as some outer boroughs in the grand theft auto spike. However, city data reveals that a TikTok challenge spurring kids to nab Kias and Hyundais hasn’t subsided, meaning that car theft remains one of only two major crimes increasing year-over-year. At a September 6 press conference, NYC Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban laid out a multi-pronged “comprehensive plan” that they claim will stem the tide.

| 08 Sep 2023 | 10:22

As the blaze of a disconcerting September heatwave beat down on assembled hangers-on, NYC Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD Commissioner stepped up to a mic in matching tan suits and gold-rimmed Aviator shades.

They were keen to inform New Yorkers that although crime in the city has continued to plummet year-over-year, grand theft auto–the stealing of cars–had skyrocketed by 18 percent (felony assaults have also increased, but by a more modest five percent). City data indicates that car thefts have bumped up about five percent in northern Manhattan, with the southern half of the borough actually seeing a dip. Queens and the Bronx have seen the bulk of the double-digit surge.

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pointed out way back in February, a national TikTok craze has spurred the mass theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles, with no clear sign of a slowdown. NBC New York has reported that most of NYC’s stolen cars are indeed made by those two manufacturers.

The city’s “comprehensive plan” will kick off with the additional ramp-up of license-scanning technology by the NYPD, namely via the deployment of 24/7 patrol cars that explicitly monitor stolen plates. The police will also create positions for cops that are strictly focused on analyzing car theft data.

”As with everything we do, there will be technology involved. This includes a vast digital network of license plate readers that will help officers pinpoint and track stolen vehicles,” Caban said. The NYPD proclaims that this will be a real-time flow of data.

Of course, as Adams pointed out, many of those arrested for car theft (over 51 percent) are minors. They’re spurred on by addictive apps such as TikTok, or possibly the need to impress their friends. He outlined an outreach campaign that could serve as an alternative to throwing children in jail: “We’re working with violence interrupters, schools, and administrators to reach out to individuals–especially young people. These numbers speak for themselves.”

Public service announcements will be sponsored by the NY Department of Motor Vehicles, the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, and Spectrum TV. Specifically, they’ll be letting you know how to make your sedan theftproof. Billboards and robocalls will be utilized.

Mayor Adams tested out a few pointers himself. “Car theft is a crime of opportunity. There are some easy things all of us can do to prevent theft. It may sound simple, but don’t forget to lock your door,” he solemnly intoned. He added that you, his fellow New Yorker, shouldn’t “get out of your vehicle and leave the engine running. That is an invitation for your vehicle to be stolen.”

“Car theft is a crime of opportunity. There are some easy things all of us can do to prevent theft.” Mayor Eric Adams