State of Auto Theft – Episode 1: Introduction

  • November 27, 2018
  • DJ Thompson

At LoJack, we are in a unique position to see trends and techniques in auto theft as they happen. Our relationship with law enforcement, our stolen vehicle recovery technology and our high success rate give us exceptional insight into how and why thieves are stealing cars.

As the senior director of law enforcement liaisons for LoJack, I get to see it all, but I have a long history in the field as well. I am a former Connecticut State Police detective, past President of the Northeast Chapter of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) and a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Vehicle Crimes Committee. Auto theft has long been an area of interest for me, and I suppose you could say I’ve accumulated some knowledge about it.

We believe that sharing of our insights and the trends that we are seeing can help police chiefs and car owners across the country combat auto theft. LoJack is a longtime sponsor of IAATI and believes that regional IAATI shows promote sharing of techniques, issues and solutions to help improve local policing.

With all this in mind, welcome to the first episode of our State of Auto Theft blog series. In this ongoing series, we’ll talk about national and state-by-state trends in auto theft, describe a few techniques to watch out for and, of course, tell some interesting recovery stories. Keeping tabs on crime patterns in different regions can help you understand what new techniques might be headed to your area soon.

Auto theft is a problem that appears to be increasing after a few years of downward trend. From a low of 689,527 motor vehicle thefts nationwide in 2014, auto theft has climbed over the last few years nationally. Increases in the Western region have outpaced declines in the Northeast and Midwest. There were a total of 773,139 estimated thefts of vehicles in the U. S. in 2017, accounting for nearly a $6 billion loss nationwide. The average dollar loss per stolen vehicle was $7,708.

We will examine how cross-jurisdictional task forces help bring agencies together to move beyond one-off prosecutions and take down entire car theft rings and how sharing information between agencies helps law enforcement anticipate new theft MOs. We will talk about auto theft as both a crime of opportunity and a gateway crime that not only leads to other crimes, but enables and funds them. Finally, we will talk about the value of the information we get from tracking technology and how our stolen vehicle recovery system does more than help law enforcement recover individual cars.

I am personally looking forward to these topics, which are both important and interesting. Thank you for joining me on this journey of exploration, and I’ll see you soon as we examine a few regional trends in auto theft. In the meantime, you can see what LoJack has been up to by checking out our 2017 Annual Recovery Report.