In 2021, catalytic converter theft claims in the U.S. increased a staggering 1,215% compared to 2019, and car thefts rose 17% in 2021 compared to 2019, reports The NICB Informer, published by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
The report explores recent trends concerning various forms of auto crimes including stolen vehicles, catalytic converter thefts, violent carjackings, and fuel theft.
Vehicle theft has been steadily on the rise. 2020 saw the most vehicle thefts in more than a decade. Beginning in June 2020, the U. S. experienced a 13% increase in auto thefts, with 41 states seeing an increase over the previous year, a trend that has continued throughout 2021. In 2021, car theft was up by 29% as compared to 2017, just four years earlier.
On the upside, 81% of vehicle thefts reported in 2020 were recovered as of Sept. 30, 2021, reports the Informer.
Unattended cars either idling or with the keys left in them are a major target for thieves. For example, in 2020, there were nearly 97,800 thefts with keys reported to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Overall, over the course of 2020, thefts with keys increased by a total of 20% by the end of the year.
Catalytic converter theft has spread rapidly across the country in recent years as well. From 2019 to 2020, there was a 325% increase in catalytic converter thefts — and the trend continued, reaching more than 52,000 catalytic converter thefts nationwide in 2021. That’s more than a 1,200% increase over 2019.
The NICB works with legislators to help combat catalytic converter theft. Some 26 states proposed bills aimed at curbing the problem in 2021 alone. As of the end of March 2022, 35 states were assessing newly introduced or carryover legislation to address these crimes. So far in 2022, Alabama, Indiana, and South Dakota have passed legislation.
Carjackings are another crime of great concern. Unlike auto theft, a carjacking involves violent confrontation with an offender or the perceived threat of violence that could cause death or serious bodily injury.
Some of the largest increases in carjacking trends between 2019 and 2021. Several major cities have experienced triple-digit increases in carjackings — the highest escalations in the nation. For example, carjackings in New York City rose 286% while Philadelphia saw a 238% increase, Chicago a 207%, and Washington, D.C, a 200% increase.
Finally, thanks to sky-high gas prices fuel theft is on the rise, reports the Informer. Thieves are getting creative with multiple tactics emerging. They are using skimmer devices to steal credit card information, siphoning gas directly from vehicles, drilling into vehicle fuel tanks, and stealing directly from the pumps. Law enforcement across the nation is warning motorists to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.