Detroit officials have begun what they say is the most ambitious crackdown ever waged against car thieves after a sharp rise in auto thefts in the last two years, reports the Detroit News. The theft rate drives up insurance premiums; officials hope the crackdown will bring those costs down. Detroit has the highest average auto premiums in the nation.
Nearly 1,000 fugitives from four counties who are wanted on auto-theft-related charges are being targeted under a regional plan that calls for joint investigative county teams and the State Police sharing information and rounding up suspects. Officials hoipe it will cut auto theft by 30 percent this year. “Unfortunately in the past, prosecuting auto theft has been catch and release,” said one law enforcer. “It takes at least three offenses before a defendant gets even jail time, not prison.” This time, defendants in major cases will spend time in jail. A recent study showed that Detroiters pay the highest annual average insurance premium in the country based on coverage for a midsize sedan, $5,162. The average premium for the same car in New York City is $3,127.