Cities across the United States have experienced an unprecedented rise in auto thefts and carjackings in recent years. David Glawe, president and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), provided comprehensive expert testimony today before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary regarding this complex issue.
In his testimony, Glawe spoke on the staggering increase in auto thefts and carjackings plaguing many states and major cities throughout the United States, the apparent connection between auto thefts and carjackings and other serious violent crimes, and how NICB partners closely with federal and local law enforcement to resolve these cases. Glawe also provided lawmakers with concrete policy recommendations for them to consider in addressing the overarching problem.
“Vehicle theft and carjackings are serious offenses that warrant the attention of public officials and policymakers,” said Glawe, the former Under Secretary and Chief Intelligence Officer at the Department of Homeland Security and a 30-year law enforcement veteran. “The victims of thefts and carjackings are deserving of being vindicated and seeing that justice is served. And offenders should be held accountable for putting victims and their communities in harm’s way.”
NICB, which collects data on auto thefts nationally and across many local jurisdictions, found that car thefts nationwide increased by 16.5% in 2021 compared to 2019 and nearly 29% compared to 2017. Colorado, for example, experienced 79% more auto thefts in 2021 compared to 2019, and Wisconsin had 74% more auto thefts over the same period. Additionally, the total volume of thefts between 2019 and 2021 was staggering. California, for example, saw over 200,000 auto thefts in 2021 compared to 160,000 in 2019.
More alarmingly, many large cities have experienced triple digit increases in carjackings. Unlike auto theft, a carjacking involves violent confrontation with an offender or the perceived threat of violence that could cause death or serious bodily injury. Some of the largest increases in carjacking trends between 2019 and 2021 occurred in:
- New York: 286% increase
- Philadelphia: 238% increase
- Chicago: 207% increase
- Washington, D.C.: 200% increase
- New Orleans: 159% increase
During his testimony, Glawe offered six policy recommendations for the Committee to consider, including increasing community policing programs, revising well-intentioned criminal justice reform policies, enforcing existing laws as written, focusing attention on violent offenders, collecting national and state data on carjackings, and identifying and implementing successful early intervention programs.
“Many cities have cut police forces or slashed department funding in recent years,” said Glawe. “Drastically reducing police presence in communities across the country is not the answer. Whether through the federal COPS program or other measures, we need more community policing, not less.”
Additionally, Glawe stressed the need for state and local authorities to enforce the laws as written.
“In many jurisdictions, the law as written provides adequate penalties,” said Glawe. “However, certain enforcement or reform policies have effectively nullified these laws, thereby providing little disincentive for criminals to commit these serious offenses.”