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Automobile Theft Plagues Dallas as Many Districts See Crime Increase

Crime Boss, Featured

Masked man in black with flashlight attempting to commit automobile theft crime. | Image by welcomia via Getty Images

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Crime in Dallas

Each month, The Dallas Express analyzes crime data for each city council district in Dallas, using statistics from Dallas OpenData to calculate a monthly Crime Score. After adjusting for population differences, we compare this per capita Crime Score to the previous year’s score for the same month.


The Dallas City council members representing each region are then ranked based on the percent change in crime in their districts, and The Dallas Express Crime Boss of the Month is named.

City of Dallas Councilman Chad West of District 1 was named Crime Boss of the Month for January. His district Crime Score increased 21% from December 2020 to December 2021.

However, District 1 was not the only district to see crime increases for the same period: half of the fourteen districts in the city saw worse crime statistics or observed no change when comparing December of 2020 to December of the following year.

District 2, led by Councilman Jesse Moreno, saw the second-most significant increase in crime with 8%. One of the committees Moreno sits on is the Committee of Public Safety. According to the data, District 2 saw 60 more crimes in December 2021 than it did in the same month in 2020.

As with many Dallas districts, District 2 saw an uptick in Vehicle Theft, illustrating a significant increase from 195 in December 2020 to 324 in December 2021. District 2 also saw increases in Larceny and Theft, up from 311 to 345, and Assaults, which rose from 72 to 75.

Councilman Moreno’s office was contacted for comment, but the questions had not been answered at the time of press. If The Dallas Express receives an update from Dallas City Council staff, a follow-up story will be provided.

Dallas City District 13, represented by Councilwoman Gay Donnell Willis, saw Vehicle Theft crimes rise from 82 in December 2020 to 124 in 2021, and crime as a whole rose from 462 instances to 506 following closely behind District 2 with a 7% increase.

Other problem areas in District 13 were in the categories of Destruction of Property and Vandalism, which increased from 37 to 50; Larceny and Thefts, up from 196 to 206; and Assaults, up from 18 to 25.

Councilwoman Willis’ office was contacted for comment, but at the time of press, the questions had not been answered. As with Councilman Moreno’s office, a follow-up story will be written if The Dallas Express receives updates from the district’s staff.

The other City of Dallas Districts that saw increases in crime between December 2020 and 2021 are District 11 with a 5% increase, District 6 with a 4% increase, and District 14 with a 1% increase.

Efforts to Curb Automobile Theft

Automobile theft around the City of Dallas continues to be a significant problem. As The Dallas Express reported in last week’s Crime Boss of the Month, automobile thefts had the most significant increase compared to all crime categories. All but four of the City of Dallas’ districts saw that number rise.

District 1, represented by January’s Crime Boss of the Month Councilman Chad West, saw vehicle thefts increase by 77% (from 97 to 172).

Councilman West’s office told The Dallas Express that police officers are currently inspecting former chop shop locations to see if they are still operational. At the end of December, Dallas Police officers with the Auto Theft Task Force discovered an illegal chop shop in Oak Cliff, just outside District 1. There were 32 disassembled vehicles inside, with more hidden in a nearby wooded area. In connection with this discovery, the Dallas Police Department arrested two suspects.

The Dallas Police Department recently conducted an E-tag operation in the southern part of the division to target Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle (UUMV) crimes. The effort is set to continue throughout District 1.

Dallas Police Department Senior Corporal Brian E. Martinez told The Dallas Express that the E-Tag program uses vehicles with fictitious temporary license plates or improper temporary license plates, all referred to as E-Tags. This illegal process is commonly used in crimes from automobile theft to homicides.

“The operation targeted individuals utilizing fake license plate paper tags,” according to a Dallas Police Department press release from late January. “The operation was intended to interdict these vehicles, investigate the reason for the fictitious license plate, tow vehicles when applicable, and arrest the offender if needed.”

The Interagency Joint E-Tag Operation allowed for a high level of enforcement and brought resources to the scene quickly. The Dallas Police Department’s Auto Theft Unit inspected vehicles they suspected of being stolen, Homeland Security Investigations assisted officers in identifying people using mobile fingerprint scanners, and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles provided support for the E-Tag research. 

Martinez said a total of 149 traffic stops were made, 49 citations were issued, 42 E-Tags were seized, 11 vehicles were towed, two stolen vehicles were recovered, three arrests were made, and four weapons were recovered.

The senior corporal also shared that another way Dallas PD is attempting to thwart automobile theft in the City of Dallas is through the use of bait cars.

“A bait car, also called a decoy car, hot car, or trap car, is a vehicle used by law enforcement agencies to capture car thieves or thieves who steal items from cars,” he explained. “The vehicles can be modified with audio/video surveillance technology and can be remotely monitored and controlled. Dallas Police Officers have strategically placed bait cars throughout the city of Dallas and have successfully been able to make several arrests.”

How did your area stack up on crime? Check out our interactive Crime Map to compare all Dallas City Council Districts. Curious how we got our numbers? Check out our methodology page here.

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