Auto thefts are rising in Milwaukee but declining New York City. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asks why. The New York Times reports a 96 percent drop in New York city auto thefts between 1990 and 2013. The decline was attributed mostly to technological improvements in the form of engine immobilizer systems. Those systems require an ignition key — which contains a microchip inside that matches the vehicle — to start the car. Milwaukee auto thefts fell 54 percent from 2007 to 2013 but in first six months of this year, there were 2,877 reported auto thefts and attempted thefts, a nearly 70 percent increase over the first half of 2013.
The vehicles successfully stolen in Milwaukee are usually Dodge and Chrysler models, mid-2000s and older, that don’t have the chips. A large number of thefts early this year occurred when people left their cars running, keys in the ignition, to warm up. In Milwaukee, teens are stealing vehicles and joyriding. Some use them to commit other, more serious crimes like robbery. bout 85 percent of stolen vehicles in Milwaukee are recovered by police and the majority do not have any significant damage, which leads police to believe the vehicles primarily are used for joyriding and taking teens to their friends’ houses. The Times said that in New York, stealing cars “went out of fashion,” but in Milwaukee, it is in fashion for teens to steal cars.