Long Island sees uptick in car thefts

Long Island sees uptick in car thefts

Pixabay photo

By Sabrina Artusa

In January, the Nassau and Suffolk counties police departments, the New York City Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation formed a task force designed to tackle burglaries and thefts across Long Island. The collaboration, “a multijurisdictional burglary and stolen car task force,” as described by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman (R) at the conference announcement in January, is the result of criminals crossing county and state lines. 

In Suffolk, 1,471 vehicles were reported stolen in 2022, up 20.8% from the 1,218 taken in 2021 — the most since nearly 1,600 cars and trucks were swiped in 2010, Newsday reports.

At a recent civic meeting in Port Jefferson Station, Suffolk County Police Department provided a COPE report from Jan. 23 to Feb. 27 for the respective area. Officier Efstathiou provide the report stating, “Out of the four grand larcenies [for this area] two were related to stolen vehicles. A Honda and a Hyundai right out of one’s driveway and one in front of one’s house both with no keys. Both still not recovered.” 

In September 2022, Hochul announced a five-step plan to combat the increasing numbers of car thefts across New York. 

“Too many New Yorkers have experienced the shock of waking up to an empty driveway … that is why we are supporting local law enforcement to prosecute and prevent these thefts,” she said.

Last month Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) reported that the DMV recovered 286 vehicles worth $8.6 million in 2023 under the Comprehensive Auto-Theft Reduction Strategy. A total of 142 were recovered in New York City and 42 on Long Island.

Kias and Hyundais are mainly being targeted, Hochul announced in September. After videos exposing how to steal these cars started circulating on social media, Hyundais and Kias remain most vulnerable. However, both companies have developed upgrades to offset the thefts.

“There was a big spike … a lot of it is associated with the COVID pandemic … crime surged, not only in New York, but all across the nation,” Hochul said. 

While it is true the national rate of motor vehicle theft in 2022 was the highest it has been since 2008, it is undetermined what role the pandemic played in this change. 

Part of Hochul’s five-part plan was to implement harsher punishments, fund more advanced technology for law enforcement, increase intervention or preventative programs for at-risk youth and to strengthen the prosecution of cases dealing with vehicle theft. She also sent a letter with Mark Schroeder, state Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner, to Kia and Hyundai owners, informing them of their vehicles’ susceptibility.

“Fortunately, there are some common-sense steps you can take to help prevent your car from being stolen, such as always locking your car doors and parking in well-lit areas,” the letter reads. “In addition, Kia and Hyundai have agreed to provide tools to strengthen your car’s anti-theft protections, including a software update and a window sticker.”

In November, state Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D-Rochester) proposed the Car Theft Prevention Act to counter the rising rates of car thefts. In Rochester, more than 3,800 motor vehicle thefts were reported in 2023. That number is nearly three times the total in 2022, which itself was a record year. 

This new bill adds the felony offenses of criminal possession of stolen property in the first through fourth degrees as bail-qualified offenses.