BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — According to Buffalo Police, from 2020 through the first six months of 2021, there has been nearly a 72% increase in car thefts across Buffalo.
"And our stolen cars last year were up. Off the top of my head, 80-90% from the year before that," Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gamaglia said.
BPD said it's the same individuals stealing cars over and over again.
"We have some repeat offenders who will say just give me my appearance ticket so I can get out of here," Gramaglia said.
From the beginning of 2020 to now, Buffalo Police said they have arrested one person eight times for motor vehicle theft. Another has been arrested six times. Three others have been arrested five times each. Nearly 50 people have been arrested for motor vehicle theft two or three times.
BPD said nearly all were younger than 18-years-old.
"And the problem with repeat offenders is that under the new bail statute, the stolen car cases, the actual crimes, is a non-qualifying offense. They're not eligible for bail," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said.
Flynn said bail reform is sending a message that is now changing mindsets.
"The message that has been sent that is registering in their mind is that nothing is going to happen to me. There is no accountability at all," Flynn said.
"In a young person's mind, it's gone and forgotten. There's no consequences," Gramaglia said, "Every time they get arraigned, they get let out. They have to be let go because of bail reform. There are no consequences, and they don't care."
Flynn said it's crucial this aspect of bail reform is revisited because without accountability, these juveniles can end up on the wrong path.
"At the end of that path are three options. Either they're going to get killed or shot, they're going to go to jail, or they're going to turn their life around. I'm doing whatever I can for number three so they can turn their life around," Flynn said.
Flynn said if one's life can't be turned around, he has an obligation to send that individual to jail.
"If they can't turn their life around, then I'm throwing them in jail. Number one, being dead, is not an option," Flynn said.
Buffalo Police are asking those in the Queen City to lock their cars, remove their keys and to never leave a running car unattended. They said this will help them prevent further thefts.