More than 12,000 motor vehicles have been reported stolen in Dallas so far in 2023, marking a substantial increase over last year.
The rise in such criminal offenses comes as the Dallas Police Department remains woefully understaffed. While DPD currently maintains a force of roughly 3,100 sworn personnel, a City report recommends a force of 4,000 based on population size.
Authorities have logged 12,080 motor vehicle thefts as of September 1, clocking a 35% increase over the 8,943 recorded on the same date last year, according to the City of Dallas Open Data crime analytics dashboard.
The City has struggled to clamp down on auto thefts in recent years, especially in its downtown area, which largely falls within City Council Districts 2 and 14, represented by Council Members Jesse Moreno and Paul Ridley, respectively.
Both districts clocked nearly 1,300 incidents each this year. However, Council Member Omar Narvaez’s District 6 logged the most with 1,332. District 6 comprises Dallas’ northwestern flank and borders Downtown along I-35.
“Downtown areas tend to see a greater concentration of offenses due to the greater concentration of vehicles in those locations,” DPD told The Dallas Express back in March. “With the multiple apartment buildings, parking garages, and entertainment districts, in most cases, it is a … crime of opportunity.”
“This impacts both commuters and those who live in the city,” the department added.
While auto thefts have become a growing problem in Texas, the crime is reportedly more prevalent in Dallas than in any other city in the region.
Det. Walter Clifton of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office said that part of the problem stems from organized criminal activity on the part of Mexican drug cartels.
“[Mexican] individuals call and tell their people up here, ‘hey we need 40 trucks.’ By the next morning, they got 40 trucks going across the border,” said Clifton, speaking with CBS News Texas. “You wake up, you’ve been asleep eight hours, and it’s already across the border.”
DPD logged 13,423 motor vehicle thefts in 2022, according to the crime overview dashboard.
For comparison, the North Texas city with the second-most auto thefts in 2022 was Fort Worth, recording 3,051 offenses. Arlington came in third with 1,294, Garland ranked fourth with 1,035, and Irving came in fifth with 840. More cars were stolen in Dallas than in every other city in the metroplex combined, CBS News reported.
“Downtown Dallas continues to far outpace [its sister] city with crime. While I knew it was worse, I am still shocked at how bad it has gotten,” said Louis Darrouzet, CEO of the Metroplex Civic and Business Association (MCBA), in a previous interview with The Dallas Express.
MCBA conducted a comparative analysis of crime in Dallas’ and Fort Worth’s downtown areas. It found that in April, Dallas logged 91 motor vehicle thefts. Fort Worth reported two.
“This is a trend that must improve if we want to position Dallas to be a safe place to conduct business,” Darrouzet said.
Fort Worth’s downtown area is reportedly patrolled by a dedicated police unit and private security officers, a strategy that has also seen some success in reducing crime in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
With four months left to go, Dallas is on track to clock upwards of 18,000 auto thefts by the end of the year.
The Dallas Express reached out to the City of Dallas for comment on the situation.
Catherine Cuellar, director of communications, outreach, and marketing for the City, referred The Dallas Express to DPD and said that the City would not be able to offer comment by press time because the “City of Dallas is closed in observance of Labor Day.”