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13News Now Investigates: Arrests are unlikely as car thefts surge

Police in Hampton Roads made arrests in just about 4% of the reported car theft cases last year, based on data.

NORFOLK, Va. — Police are sounding the alarm when it comes to stolen cars as thieves show no signs of letting off the gas.

Based on arrest data, there's very little chance car thieves will ever be charged for the crime.

There have been 1,044 reports of stolen vehicles this year in Norfolk, according to the city's CrimeMap

Thieves stole an average of six cars a day in Norfolk during the month of August.

Credit: Dan Kennedy

Car thefts this year are up 32% in Virginia Beach and 14% in Portsmouth, based on the most recent data available. 

Portsmouth police are now urging drivers to go a step beyond just locking their car doors. They say to invest in a steering wheel lock, too.

Investigators in Portsmouth have recovered four of the six vehicles stolen in the past week, but finding probable cause and making arrests can be more difficult. 

There were 3,549 reports of stolen cars in 2021 across the seven cities of Hampton Roads. Police made just 147 arrests for the crime last year, according to the Virginia State Police annual 'Crime in Virginia' report.

That's a clearance rate of 4%.

Police say suspects are targeting Kia and Hyundai vehicles in particular, which have a vulnerability that makes them easier to steal.

When we last spoke to police officers and a mechanic to find ways to protect your car from theft, here are some of the tips we got:

  • Lock your car doors and never leave your car running while unattended
  • Roll your windows up when you get out of the car, even if you're just stepping into a store for a few minutes
  • You can deter thieves by installing a visible home surveillance
  • You can put a simple GPS tracker in the glove box or center console
  • You can install an "alarm kill switch" that cuts your car's power with the flip of a switch


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