2001 Vehicle Theft Award of Merit Winners

For Immediate Release
Contact: Patricia Goven
Friday, November 09, 2001
(703)836-6767, ext. 276

Grand Prize: Baltimore County Police Department, Baltimore Regional Auto Theft Team

In the ten-year period between 1985 and 1994, Baltimore City and County’s vehicle theft rate rose 143 percent. Along with this theft rate, thieves accompanied car theft with violent acts. Statistical evaluations showed that 70 percent of the vehicles stolen in Baltimore County were recovered in Baltimore City. Secondly, a large number of cars stolen from Baltimore City were recovered in Baltimore County, showing a strong correlation between the two jurisdictions. Finally, car thieves were using vehicles to perpetrate robberies, burglaries and assaults. Traditional methods to stop these thieves didn’t work.

The State of Maryland was also concerned with its rising vehicle theft rate and authorized the formation of the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council in 1994. The Council’s goal was to form cooperative ventures between governments and communities to address the vehicle theft problem. Baltimore County and Baltimore City bonded to create a joint grant to use a multi-faceted attack on vehicle theft.

On January 2, 1995, the Regional Auto Theft Team was begun. Over the last six years, the unit’s capabilities and experience has grown exponentially, and the unit has become a leader in the field of vehicle theft investigation. Vehicle theft has declined 47 percent since 1994, showing that the Baltimore Regional Auto Theft Team has made a difference.


Honorable Mentions

  • New York State Police
  • Henrico County Police
  • Toronto Police Service

New York State Police Auto Theft Initiative

For years, automobile thieves found upstate New York a profitable place to do business. In 1992, only 13.8 percent of all reported auto thefts in New York occurred upstate. By 1996, this had nearly doubled to 23.4 percent.

In 1998, the New York State Police began formulating an ambitious plan to reverse this trend. This involved establishing a special regionally based corps of expert NYSP auto theft investigators, backing them with the State Police’s full array of statewide investigative and technical resources, supplying them with the latest, state-of-the-art surveillance and investigative equipment, then directing them to work closely and share resources with any law enforcement agency willing to tackle this problem. Their goal was to reduce auto theft by 25 percent within five years.

The New York State Police Auto Theft Initiative, which started in December 1998, has waged a determined war against upstate auto thievery and insurance fraud, smashing several major vehicle theft organizations, effecting more than 550 felony arrests and recovering nearly 600 stolen vehicles with an estimated value exceeding $9 million. Auto theft rates upstate plummeted more than 30 percent in the program’s first year of operation.

This trend continues today, with State Police auto theft experts not only collaborating daily with numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies, but also in training personnel from other agencies.

Honorable Mention: Henrico County Virginia Division of Police, Auto Theft Enforcement and Prevention Initiative

The Henrico Division of Police has experienced a constant level of reported auto thefts since 1997. During 1997, 710 cars were reported stolen and 756 cars were reported stolen during 1998. After conducting an analysis of the types of auto theft, it was determined that joyriding and professional thefts were collectively the most prominent and also viewed as the primary concern to public safety.

As a result, an Auto Theft Task Force was created in October 1999 to reduce or maintain the overall quantity of thefts, increase the investigative clearance rate, and increase community involvement in auto theft prevention. To accomplish this task, dual strategies of selective enforcement and prevention programs were implemented.

The combination of selective enforcement efforts and auto theft prevention programs has proven an effective tool in combating automobile larcenies. This multi-faceted approach does not just confront current theft trends but also identifies future theft methods and theft corridors.

Honorable Mention: Toronto Police Service Auto Squad

In January 1998, the Toronto Police Service directed the Auto Squad to develop and implement a plan to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle theft in the city of Toronto. The incidence of motor vehicle theft in the city of Toronto had been on a steady incline through the 1990s while at the same time the recovery rate was continually declining.

The Toronto Police Service Auto Squad hosted several meetings to identify the root causes of motor vehicle theft and developing meaningful strategies to reduce theft and increase recovery rates. The result was the creation of the Toronto Police Service Auto Squad Community Police Liaison Committee.

The committee developed 68 recommendations to address the issue of motor vehicle theft in Toronto. The implementation of these recommendations began in 1999 and is ongoing at the time. Several of the recommendations were put in place in the year 2000. Throughout 2000, members of the Auto Squad diversified and broadened their focus to include the recommended proactive measures as part of their mandated duties. The Auto Squad assigned officers to work closely with government and private sector to close legislative loopholes, support innovative anti-theft technologies and conducted ongoing vehicle theft investigative training lectures for front line patrol officers.

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