Auto thefts are up over 200% in Nassau County, Long Island this year versus last year. This is with unemployment below 4%, so it’s not suddenly happening because people are desperate. We had a spike in crime in my community post-2008 financial crisis, but nothing to this degree. We’ve had over 370 reported car thefts so far this year,
In every upper middle class enclave of my county, cars are being stolen right out of people’s driveways. And, more recently, we’re hearing about carjackings. In some cases, a person turns their back at a gas station to punch numbers into the pump. When they turn back around they discover a person driving away with their car. And in some cases this is happening at gunpoint. In one recent situation, there was a woman loading groceries into her car in a supermarket parking lot with her baby sitting in the cart. A guy walks up and demands her car keys. This is in broad daylight. This stuff just does not happen where I live, regardless of the nation’s economic situation. It’s part of the reason why the people who live in Nassau County have chosen to live here – obscenely high taxes, strong law enforcement, low crime. That’s the bargain.
That bargain has been shattered by the new economic reality – cars, new and used, are worth a fortune. Nobody can get them and everybody wants them.
So we have an epidemic of teenage car thieves, some as young as 15 years old, coming out to Nassau’s wealthier towns from Newark, New Jersey and going shopping. They tend to work after midnight, checking all the door handles and looking for people who have left a key fob inside their car. They are looking at the sideview mirrors on BMWs and Range Rovers to see whether or not they’re turned inward – if they’re fully outward, the car is unlocked. Everyone I know has a Ring camera and almost everyone I know now has a video of someone pulling a car handle in their driveway at 3am. I’ve watched a few of these theft videos on people’s phones this spring. The matter-of-fact way the thieves saunter up a driveway and just pull out with a car is a bit unnerving.
They take the cars out of our neighborhoods and drive them straight to the port in Newark, where the cops say they are paid cash on the spot. The engine of the stolen car never shuts off; it’s driven right onto a ship bound for the Middle East or Latin America. We know this because in some cases people have left Apple Airtags or iPads in the trunk and have tracked their vehicle as it’s left the western hemisphere.
Over the weekend police say there were three different groups of thieves in the areas of East Hill, Flower Hill, Manhasset, Greenvale and Plandome opening up cars and stealing them if the key fobs were inside.
Police say three separate groups of thieves from Newark were on Long Island Saturday breaking into cars and stealing one of them.
He says the teens are traveling to upper class neighborhoods to steal cars–knowing the vehicles could be unlocked with key fobs inside.
O’Hara says they later sell the vehicles in Newark, where they’re used in violent crimes, or shipped overseas to be sold on the black market.
Why are car thieves coming from Newark, New Jersey to rob Long Island, New York? The Republican politicians are saying it’s because our state has passed a Raise The Age bill which makes it so a teenage offender walks right out of police custody after an arrest over something like this. It’s happening in Suffolk County too, further out east on Long Island. In one town, they had a 48 hour stretch in March where a car was stolen every 4 hours. The police are not equipped to handle this level of criminal activity in these places.
This is the primary topic of conversation now – did you hear what happened at the mall? Did you hear about Lisa’s car? Did you see what happened at the BP station on Sunrise Highway?
The other night, a group of teen suspects were arrested on the North Shore after one of them rammed a stolen car intentionally into a police squad car. He kept driving the now damaged vehicle and hit several other squad cars, injuring five police – two detectives and three officers – all of whom had to be taken to a hospital. A few of them may have suffered career-ending injuries. Two of the three suspects were set free.
Police say three suspects, two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old, were taken into custody and a gun was found in their car.
One was held because he had a warrant out for his arrest, but the others were released. “These individuals are getting out because of Raise the Age. We no longer hold them as adult and they eventually go to family court. The other message we are trying to get to the public is lock your cars, take your fobs in. My cops are getting hurt trying to recover your property, that if it was locked we wouldn’t be in this situation,’ Ryder says. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said the groups of thieves are coming here because of what he calls New York state’s progressive policies like bail reform, that he believes have made the state a less safe place to live and an easy target.
Leaving aside the politically charged theory for why these thieves have chosen to come here to steal, I think we can all agree that the world’s thirst for cars is underpinning the massive uptick in car thefts and carjackings. Progressivism isn’t the issue here, it’s inflation and unmet demand. Businesses will find a way to meet demand and, if they can’t, criminals will.
It’s amazing that we are still contending with pandemic-related shortages, made worse by the over-the-top stoking of consumer demand carried out by Fed and Treasury starting two years ago this spring. If you were ever curious about the potential downside of pulling forward years of demand for goods that could not be manufactured in sufficient number, look no further than the auto-related crime wave happening now in the suburbs of New York.