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With car prices surging, yours is a prime target for thieves

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You can blame the Covid pandemic for yet another thing: a surge in auto thefts.

Vehicle thefts in the United States jumped 9% last year from a year earlier to 873,000, the highest number in more than a decade, according to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau provided to CNBC’s “American Greed.”

The pandemic created a “perfect storm” of conditions for auto thefts to increase, said NICB President and CEO David Glawe.

“We have a lot of disenfranchised youth that are unemployed, and outreach programs are shut down or limited due to Covid,” he said. “There is frustration and anger in society. We are also seeing public safety resource limitations and withdrawal of proactive policing due to budget constraints.”

Vehicles are also especially valuable these days. Because of tight supply and heavy post-pandemic demand, used car prices are up nearly 30% from a year ago.

The increase in thefts began slowly, coinciding with the start of the pandemic in March 2020. They accelerated by last June as the first wave of Covid lockdowns subsided and a second wave loomed. By November, monthly thefts were running 18% ahead of 2019.

The biggest jump was in Chicago, which saw a 134% increase in vehicle thefts last year, the NICB said. The Chicago Police Department said it also recorded a doubling in the number of carjackings.

“This has been a year that has presented numerous challenges to law enforcement,” Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said in a statement in January announcing the figures.

Numbers leveled off a bit as pandemic restrictions have subsided, but Chicago police data released this month show thefts are still 9% higher than a year ago.

Elsewhere, thefts surged 68% in New York City and 50% in Washington, D.C., the NICB said.

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With car prices surging, yours is a prime target for thieves

2021-06-18 06:00:01

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