Before pandemic, Illinois saw notable decrease in car thefts

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Before the recent rise in auto thefts and carjackings in Illinois, the crime was decreasing before the pandemic.

QuoteWizard looked at statistics from 2010 through 2019 and auto thefts in Illinois decreased by 21%, one of the biggest drops in the country.

“Places where we saw a decrease there was just more awareness,” said researcher Nick VinZant. “The No. 1 reason that people’s cars are stolen is they simply leave it unlocked. It is very much a crime of opportunity, and I think a greater awareness in some states really contributed to the decreases like we saw in Illinois.”

Other states with falling car theft numbers in the last decade were Vermont and Rhode Island, both with over a 40% drop.

States where auto thefts were on the rise include Alaska with a 98% increase, and New Mexico with a 79% percent increase.

Car thefts seem to be on the rise this year over last, especially in Chicago. Police report over 5,400 cars have been stolen already this year.

Carjackings are a growing problem in Chicago, with 870 incidents through July 22. That is up 53% from the same period in 2020.

VinZant said a new crime that appears to be on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic is the theft of a car by thieves looking for a specific part.

“We did see an increase in some states that started along with the pandemic in regards to people stealing a car and parting it out specifically for the catalytic converters which can be very valuable,” VinZant said.

Many attribute the spike to the precious metals shortage, with thieves commanding high prices for platinum, palladium and rhodium contained with car catalytic converters.

According to the public data company BeenVerified , there were nearly 26,000 catalytic converter thefts in the U.S. this year, an 80% increase from 2020. Over 550 thefts have occurred in Illinois this year.

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