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Grand larceny auto has drastically increased in New York City as the annual number of vehicle thefts in the broader United States surpassed one million for the first time in nearly two decades. New York City Democratic Mayor Eric Adams said at a Sunday press conference that residents should use AirTags, which are small, disk-shaped devices that attach to keys, bikes, and other items, to help police officers track stolen vehicles.
“This simple device, this simple AirTag, hidden in a car at a location that a person is not aware of is an excellent tracking device. It’s easy to monitor,” Adams said. “As soon as we are notified about a grand larceny auto, and even if it’s days later, we can still track the car and find the person who’s driving and put a break on what we are experiencing in the city with grand larceny autos.”
AirTags presently sell for $29 and require battery replacement once per year. NYPD Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said on social media that officers would use drones and conventional police work to recover stolen cars with the aid of the AirTag.
Adams revealed that the Association for a Better New York would donate 500 AirTags for residents and added that the city would work with corporate partners to increase access to the technology.
“Your greatest investment is your automobile,” he continued. “It’s used for many different reasons: to get to and from your place of employment, to drop your children off every day, to deal with any medical procedures you may have.”
New York state witnessed a 23% increase in vehicle thefts between 2021 and 2022, according to a report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Thefts have particularly risen for certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles, which lack electronic immobilizers that prevent criminals from bypassing the ignition in cars manufactured by other companies. Viral social media videos have instructed young thieves on how to steal the vehicles, according to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
New York City officials have asserted that the increases in Kia and Hyundai thefts are attributable to the companies turning a “blind eye” to the vulnerability.
“We have the right to expect that those cars have standard anti-theft measures,” Adams said last month. “We’re going to hold Kia and Hyundai accountable for the public nuisance they’ve created and protect New Yorkers’ cars.”