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Car Theft Today

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Feeling inspired by Stealing Cars I decided that it would be interesting to see what is happening in the news as to car theft today. A quick google search will show that  as Heitmann and Morales suggest, car theft is not a thing of the past. According to the FBI, an estimated 721,053 motor vehicles were stolen nationwide in 2012. This means that more than $4.3 billion dollars was lost to these thefts. The FBI estimates that one car theft occurred every 43.7 seconds. Its interesting to see numbers and rates but personally I think an issue is made more clear with real life anecdotes as well. So when I looked around for information regarding car theft I also checked the recent news and came up with quite the number of stories in the last week alone. I thought I’d share a few of them.

Just a few weeks ago, these two were seen stealing a Ferrari 348 in broad daylight on a busy street in the Netherlands. As you can see, they just rip out the ignition cylinder and then hot wire the vehicle. Nothing fancy, but as they are clearly in a busy neighborhood, I’d say pretty bold. A passerby just happened to catch on to what was happening and pull out their cellphone for a video. These same two men supposedly stole a BMW the day before.


    On late Saturday night, a teenage boy was shot after running a stolen sedan into two police cars in San Jose. The boy has been taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries. The other teen in the stolen vehicle has been taken into custody.

    Mercury News

    Yesterday, a man was ran over trying to stop a teen from stealing his BMW in Hyde Park, Illinois. He had left his vehicle running at a gas station when he went inside to get quarters. He came outside and saw a man in his car starting to drive away. The owner then ran up to the car and pulled the driver’s door open but couldn’t get all the way inside or pull the teen out. The potential car thief then pulled out into the intersection where the owner was thrown from the vehicle and ran over by an oncoming car. The owner has been taken to the hospital where he is being treated for his severe injuries.

    Chicago Tribune

    Even in these few stories, many of the themes discussed in Stealing Cars are evident. The difference between the most likely organized crime of the first story is contrasted against the juvenile car thieves of the last two. The second story and its article show how people tend to feel for the teen thief. The article discusses the drama of a teen being shot, rather than the police being rammed or the car being stolen. The last story is classic crime of opportunity, not premeditated. The keys were in the car and the teen decided in that moment to try and steal it. After growing up on an island in Southeast Alaska where car theft is nonexistent, it was very strange to look through the recent news and see story after story. You go from that, to Mr. Heitmann’s point that only 10-20% of car theives in America are caught and you see just how prevalent the issue really is.

      Sources: FBI, US Dept of Justice and Yahoo! Autos


  1. Kuangdi Zhao
    Kuangdi Zhao

    Car theft has not attracted public attention yet in China. First of all, a large percentage of urban population live in gates communities. People park their cars within the communities where there are 24 safeguards. So car theft does not happen very often in major cities. Also, Department of Public Security of China has installed cameras on highways, intersections, and major roads. Those cameras are able to distinguish the numbers on the plate. Unless thieves can successfully cover their plates, it would be extremely difficult for them to escape after stealing cars. However, if they cover their plates, they will easily become the targets of policemen.

    May 14, 2014
  2. Jier Qiu
    Jier Qiu

    If you take a look at the countries with most car theft rates, America is not even in the top ten list. Switzerland is the first and Norway is the tenth, with Canada being the eighth. In the top ten countries, eight of them are in Europe. So it seems that auto theft is a much bigger problem in Europe.

    May 14, 2014

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