Democratic Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced on Monday that the city would shift its approach toward car thefts in the area by ‘holding manufacturers responsible’ and giving residents tracking devices for their vehicles.
Thieves have stolen 9,313 cars in Baltimore since January in a 229% increase from 2022, police data showed. In an attempt to stop the rampant theft, Scott introduced a new plan that will give city residents access to anti-theft devices and electronic tracking tags for their cars, will place “pressure” on car manufacturers to “not cut corners,” will improve the city’s impound lot and will use “youth diversion” in an effort to stop juveniles from stealing vehicles, according to a summary of the strategy.
“The updates we’re outlining today are a continuation of that work, which includes prevention, deterrence, enforcement, and the pursuit of legal recourse,” Scott said in a press release. “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.”
Under the new strategy, the city will hand out free electronic tracking devices and steering wheel locks to eligible citizens, and will increase police patrols in some “hot-spot locations” where cars get stolen more often, according to the summary. Scott also intends to install more license plate readers throughout Baltimore to hold car thieves “accountable.”
Scott attributed the jump in car theft to young people using TikTok to learn how to easily break into Kia and Hyundai models, according to the summary. Nearly 70% of the cars stolen in Baltimore since January have been either a Kia or a Hyundai, and juvenile car thefts have jumped 166% since 2022.
“We know that there is something deeper going on when we see these types of spikes, and we’re committed to continuing to address the root cause of these issues and show that young people have the opportunities that they need, the support that they need at home, to encourage them to choose to do the right thing,” Scott told The Baltimore Sun.
Juveniles face minimal penalties for all but the most “violent” crimes under current Maryland law, a response that residents claim has exacerbated crime in the city. Juvenile offense complaints have increased 74% in the state since the lenient policies were put into effect in 2021, and juvenile offenses increased 70.5% in fiscal year 2022 alone.
Higher theft rates have raised Baltimore citizens’ car insurance rates to 231% above the national average. Insurance companies blamed the high rates on the “risk” in the area, citing the high crime in Baltimore that leads to more car theft complaints.
The Baltimore mayor’s office and the Baltimore Police Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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