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Norfolk interim police chief addresses rise in car thefts, increasing patrols

One Norfolk woman said a suspect took off with her late husband's blue Kia while at a dealership service bay on July 11.

NORFOLK, Va. — Car thefts have become a national and local trend on the rise. 

Law enforcement and city leaders in Norfolk are trying to get a handle on this rise in crime, as more residents fall victim.

"It makes you feel uneasy," said Shelly Kralik, a Norfolk resident. "You hear about all these thefts, the cars being taken out of driveways, but you just never think, a car dealership while it's in the bay being serviced."

Kralik said thieves stole her late husband's blue Kia from a dealership on North Military Highway on July 11. She described information management told her about the suspects. "One jumped out, jumped in my car and they took off." 

Credit: Contributed

Kralik asked that you keep a lookout for the blue Kia, which she intended to pass down to her son. She said the car doesn't have any stickers on it. If it still has the plates, they have the letters BRNXBBR.

Based on conversations with dealership management, Kralik's said her indication is that she would receive a replacement car. More than one week following the incident, she said she has not received it. 

"We are significantly up [in property crime], mostly in larcenies from autos and stolen vehicles," said Norfolk Police Department Interim Chief Michael Goldsmith, in front of city council members on Tuesday

Year-to-date trends (from January 1 to July 14) since 2018 show 2022 at its peak, according to Norfolk police data about stolen cars. 

Goldsmith said the city has seen 760 stolen cars, so far this year. 

Some of those stolen are worker trucks. Drivers left keys inside or the vehicle running in more than half of the cases, according to the data reported.

Credit: City of Norfok

Goldsmith added, in part, reorganizing and recruiting officers will be crucial moving forward with the department's patrol enhancement strategy.

"We are taking sworn officers who are in these admin positions, detailing them into our operations divisions for 90 days, in order to supplement what's going on on the street," he said. "We are [also] going to hire more nonsworn professional staff where it makes sense for us to do so, in order to free up more uniforms to get on the street."

Moreover, he said the plan will come with its challenges.

"All of this reorg and patrol enhancement is not going to come without some sacrifice and other things we used to be able to do, that we are going to struggle to do in the future," he said. 

Goldsmith mentioned one of their future struggles will include staffing large events in the city. However, he said that's a matter he's talking out with City Manager Dr. Chip Filer and partner organizations. 

Ultimately, Goldsmith and residents like Kralik hope everyone can do their part to deter car theft crime from happening.

13News Now attempted to reach the general manager of the Norfolk dealership in question. We left contact information and have not yet heard back. 

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