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Lock your cars! Vehicle theft spikes in COVID-19 pandemic

Lock your cars! Vehicle theft spikes in COVID-19 pandemic
Posted at 10:55 AM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 10:55:39-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The coronavirus hasn’t been kind to car owners.

With more people than ever staying home to lessen the spread of COVID-19, their sedans, pickup trucks and SUVs are parked unattended on the streets, making them easy targets for thieves.

Despite silent streets and nearly non-existent traffic, vehicle larcenies shot up 63% in New York and nearly 17% in Los Angeles from Jan. 1 through mid-May, compared with the same period last year.

Many law enforcement agencies around the U.S. are reporting an increase in stolen cars and vehicle burglaries, even as violent crime has dropped dramatically nationwide in the coronavirus pandemic.

Sgt. Chris Vetrano, supervisor of the Austin Police Department’s auto theft unit, says the pandemic has created a “perfect storm.”

Elements of the storm include: Drivers being at home and not using their cars regularly, teenagers trying their luck with school out, criminals having more time on their hands because they’re out of work or need fast money for a drug habit.

Authorities worry that numbers will keep rising because people may get more desperate as the pandemic rolls along.