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Car thefts on the rise across Illinois and in Bloomington-Normal

A recovered 2012 Hyundai Elantra is seen in Berkeley, Calif., after being stolen in early October 2023. Thieves have targeted Hyundai and Kia vehicles that were built without engine immobilizers, a common anti-theft technology that has long been standard on other vehicle models. Now, Hyundai said it will set up “mobile clinics” at five U.S. locations to provide anti-theft software upgrades for vehicles now regularly targeted by thieves using a technique popularized on TikTok and other social platforms. (AP Photo/David Hamilton)
David Hamilton
/
AP
A report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau indicates car thefts in 2023 are approaching record levels. Illinois saw the largest increase in vehicle thefts in the U.S. in the first half of the year — 38 percent.

Vehicle thefts continue to increase in Illinois and across the country — and Bloomington-Normal is not immune.

Bloomington Police spokesperson Bryce Janssen said there were 105 vehicle thefts from January-November 2022 in the city, and 131 vehicle thefts from January-November 2023, marking a 25% increase.

Janssen noted more than 30 of the thefts this year were related to security issues in Hyundai and Kia vehicles. He said since the manufacturers issued a security update, the number of vehicle thefts have returned to a more stable rate.

“I would say our stolen vehicle numbers are right on trend for what they were last year as well,” Janssen said. “Not a huge increase.”

Normal Police community engagement officer Brad Park said the the town has received about 40 vehicle theft calls since the start of the year, also about a 25% increase over 2022.

A report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau indicates car thefts in 2023 are approaching record levels. Illinois saw the largest increase in vehicle thefts in the U.S. in the first half of the year — 38% (11,118 to 20,820).

Janssen said the best way to prevent a stolen vehicle is to not leave a spare key in the vehicle.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, if it’s hidden in the glove box or in the center console; it’s there in case I ever lose my keys and I’m able to get inside of the vehicle, at least I have my spare inside,’” Janssen said. “It’s a bad idea.”

He added that parking indoors or in a well-lit area can help deter thieves, and not to park vehicles in restricted areas where they might be towed.

Porch pirates

Police also warn of another kind of theft as as the holiday season is underway.

“With the holidays, Amazon Prime day coming up, and all these other ones, Christmas, and stuff like that, package theft is a big thing we try to keep an eye on,” Park said. “One thing we try to ask people to do is if they do have a secure area their packages can be delivered to, try to put that in the delivery instructions when you order.”

If a package needs to be delivered where it is visible, Park said to ask a family member, friend, or neighbor pick up the package and hold onto it to prevent it from being stolen.

“Those big holidays are when people will really go out and do package thefts,” Park said. “Unfortunately, it’s sometimes because they’re trying to get gifts for their own family members or something like that.”

Park said package thieves do not usually strike once, but rather they go door-to-door or follow around a mail truck.

"We try to arrest as many [thieves] as we can, but if there was a package that was set down somewhere and there’s absolutely no video, there’s no witnesses that saw anybody come and grab that package, there’s not a whole lot we can do,” Park said.

Megan Spoerlein is a reporting intern at WGLT. She started in 2023. Megan is also studying journalism at Illinois State University.
Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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