MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Auto thefts have increased more than 100% in Memphis, police told city council members on Tuesday.
MPD says auto thefts are the main driver of crime, with 9,600 auto thefts reported so far this year. That is an average of about 30 thefts per day.
“It’s a pretty serious situation because a lot of the stolen vehicles that we’re seeing on our roads right now are vehicles that are being used in other crimes,” said Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis.
Hyundai, Kia, and Infiniti are the top three cars that are stolen.
MPD leaders say thefts of Kias and Hyundais are part of a nationwide trend and cite the Kia Boys who shared their tactics on YouTube and it spread throughout the country.
“And we also have the issues with the key fob programmers where our suspects break into a car and reprogram the car with a new key fob and drive off in it in a matter of minutes,” said Joe Oakley, Deputy Chief of Information Systems.
To help prevent cars from being stolen, Memphis Police recently partnered with Kia to give out hundreds of free wheel locks. MPD hopes to give out another 1,000 wheel locks in the future.
“If you’re a driver of one of those vehicles be cognizant of where you park your car, be cognizant of whether or not you leave your car running when you run into a store and that’s not just for Kias and Hyundais that’s for any kind of vehicle,” Chief Davis said.
MPD says many of those committing these thefts are young people often under 18.
“We want parents to be just more aware of where their children are at 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning. A 14-year-old should be at home. People think that the police are babysitters and we are not,” Chief Davis said.