The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., gave out free AirTags and Tile Trackers last week to some residents in an attempt to combat rising rates of carjacking in certain areas across the city.
To date, the city has seen 866 instances of carjacking, of which 637 involved a firearm, according to MPD data. The thefts have largely been concentrated in the east half of Washington, D.C. So far, 144 arrests have been made, and 65 percent of those arrestees were under the age of 18.
Washington, D.C. has experienced a surge in both vehicle thefts and carjackings in recent months. These are distinct crime categories; a carjacking is when a car is stolen in the presence of the owner, mostly at gunpoint, while a vehicle theft is when a car is stolen while the owner is not present.
The cause of the vehicle theft surge in D.C. is quite clear, and ties into a national trend. Many Kias and Hyundais manufactured between 2011 and 2021 are easy to steal because they were manufactured without a basic anti-theft device. Motherboard has reported extensively on this trend, known as the Kia Boys, and its causes. As part of that reporting, Motherboard filed a public records request with MPD for detailed vehicle theft data. From December 2019 to October 2022, no more than 32 Kias and Hyundais were stolen in any given month. Over the next six months, thefts rapidly increased, topping out at 368 stolen Kias and Hyundais in D.C. in May 2023 alone. More Kias and Hyundais were stolen in the first three months of 2023 than in the previous two years combined. Meanwhile, thefts of all vehicles made by every other car company remained relatively stable.
Starting tomorrow, @DCPoliceDept is providing free tracking tags to DC residents living in selected police service areas.— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) November 6, 2023
Check if you're eligible and find out where to claim one for your vehicle ??https://t.co/O2IysOiOFk pic.twitter.com/SNtZ9OOO3i