Since January, 914 vehicles have been stolen in the city of New Orleans. That's about equal to the total vehicle thefts (913) in the state of North Carolina in 2017, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
In New Orleans, one car is stolen every three hours. That's compared to the fact that in 2017, a vehicle was stolen once every 40 seconds across the nation.
Police say auto theft in New Orleans is not a new problem. However, there was a drop in thefts prior to Hurricane Katrina. After the storm in 2005, reports of stolen vehicles rose and remained stagnant for a while. But there has been an uptick in the crime over the past two years.
The majority of today's culprits, according to reports, are not chop shop crooks but rather young kids — sometimes too young to even have a driver's license. Many are using the stolen vehicles to commit other crimes.
In Louisiana, the most commonly stolen vehicles include Ford and Chevy pickups, the Honda Accord, the Nissan Altima, and the Toyota Camry.
While police continue to try to crack down on the thieves, New Orleans drivers are taking steps to protect their vehicles. Some say they use clubs to lock the steering wheel. Others use the LoJack, which tracks the location of a vehicle in order to recover it after theft. Still others use the "kill switch" — a device that essentially makes it impossible to start the engine.