Local Authorities Warn of Spike in Violent Auto Thefts

auto thefts
Person stealing car | Image by Fractal Pictures

Plano residents were urged by police to stay vigilant amid a spike in violent car thefts.

The Plano Police Department issued a public safety alert on October 24 to raise awareness about the issue.

“Car theft is turning out to not just be a ‘property crime’ anymore,” the PSA warned. “These suspects are becoming [increasingly] BOLD and VIOLENT.”

Auto thieves might be encouraged by the low clearance rate for such crimes. A nationwide investigation by Statista showed that auto theft had one of the worst clearance rates, averaging 9.3% last year.

Plano saw a 27% increase in car thefts in September, with a total of 460 incidents reported. This figure marks a considerable year-over-year hike from the 360 auto thefts logged in September 2022.

By comparison, nearby Dallas, which has become ground zero for auto thefts in the region, clocked 1,957 incidences this September, according to the City’s crime overview dashboard. The Dallas Police Department has struggled to respond to such crimes due to an ongoing officer shortage, as covered by The Dallas Express.

DPD has been fielding fewer than 3,200 officers despite a previous City analysis claiming that 4,000 are needed. The department has been averaging more than 90 minutes to respond to a call concerning a motor vehicle theft in progress.

North Texas is not alone when it comes to rising auto thefts.

“Nationally vehicle crimes are on the rise. Plano is no different, we’re not immune,” said Plano Police Department public information officer Jennifer Chapman, according to NBC 5 DFW. “What is concerning is that they are increasingly becoming more dangerous. The suspects are armed with guns, and they are being a lot more bold.”

Typically, thieves in the area had a preference for pickup trucks. However, recent patterns indicate a shift in interest. High-octane cars, including Chevrolet Camaros and Corvettes and Dodge Chargers and Challengers, are increasingly on criminals’ radar.

The PSA encouraged owners of these and similar vehicles to consider buying an OBD port lock device to prevent thieves from reprogramming new keys by manipulating cars’ onboard computers. The advisory also recommended installing a GPS device that can be kept out of sight.

Plano police cautioned residents against taking matters into their own hands if they spot someone attempting to steal their vehicle. Instead, they said it was imperative to dial 911 and wait for an officer’s assistance.

As previously covered by The Dallas Express, early one morning in August, 60-year-old Jesse Simmons grabbed a firearm and confronted a suspect breaking into his work truck outside his home in Dallas.

The thief shot the father of five and grandfather of four several times, paralyzing him below the knees.

Reacting to the incident, DPD Deputy Chief Sharise Hadnot issued a warning.

“[The] instinct is to run out there and stop them. It would probably be my instinct. You have to fight against that,” said Hadnot, per Fox 4 KDFW. “Once you run out there, you have increased your chance of being harmed for this vehicle that can easily be replaced.”

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