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Police departments all around WNY struggling with car theft problem

We looked into the numbers to find out how often it's happening
Stolen vehicle reports continue to rise around WNY
Posted at 5:35 PM, Feb 06, 2023

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It doesn't matter where you live, it's happening almost daily in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Amherst, Eden. People are stealing cars in areas all around WNY.

"I think you'd have to be living under a rock to think stolen cars aren't a problem," said Chief Brian Gould of the Cheektowaga Police Department.

The latest incident happened in Cheektowaga early Monday morning, two cars were stolen in Depew, leading to a chase that sent an officer to the hospital.

Gould and leaders of police departments around the region admit it's something they're struggling with. From TikTok challenges targeting Kias and Hyundais to random break in attempts.

Let's break it down by region.

Buffalo
There have been more than 300 car thefts in the city so far this year, looking at numbers from the city's public crime dataset.

That's more than double where we were this time last year, which was 151.

There's been a stolen car report every day in 2023 in Buffalo
There's been a stolen car report every day in 2023 in Buffalo

Officials say it's getting worse, now that criminals know they can steal a car and only have to deal with a simple catch and release.

"They're telling our officers on the street, just give me my appearance ticket so I can leave and out the door they go," said Joe Gramaglia, Buffalo Police Commissioner.

Amherst
There have been 45 car thefts so far this year in Amherst, according to police.

"There are a lot of people out there just looking for a crime of opportunity and they will steal your car. We've had numerous occasions where it's the same offenders, many occasion," said Captain Charles Persons of Amherst Police.

One of those was caught on a Ring camera.

A screengrab from the Ring footage of a car theft of a Kia in Amherst
A screengrab from the Ring footage of a car theft of a Kia in Amherst

"The Kia Boys got your car," said one of the criminals caught on camera, part of the viral TikTok Kia challenge, that played a role in the October crash on the 33 that killed four teenagers.

Niagara County
Numbers are smaller in Niagara County, but it's still happening there have been 20 cars stolen, according to County Officials.

12 of those happened in Niagara Falls, according to a spokesperson for Niagara Falls Police.

Eden
On January 27, two men tampered with four cars and stole three in the town of Eden, per police. Including a truck with a car seat for a boy with special needs for a young boy.

It's something they say almost never happens there.

Two men caught on camera tampering with a car in Eden
Two men caught on camera tampering with a car in Eden

"A vehicle being stolen? Oh boy.. I would say years ago," said Lt. Nicholas Blaze when asked when's the last car theft he remembers.

But it's happening and it's happening everywhere, especially to cars that are left open with valuables or keys inside. So authorities stress to be extremely vigilant, double checking your car is locked each time you walk away from it.

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