SAN ANTONIO – There has been a huge spike in car thefts in the last few months, according to San Antonio Police Department statistics.
SAPD presented its first quarter crime statistics to the San Antonio City Council Public Safety Committee this week. While some crime stats were down — one category of crime stood out for having jumped significantly.
In the first three months of 2023, car thefts have increased more than 59% over 2022.
There were 4,292 recorded car thefts from January through March 2023, compared to 2,697 during the same period last year. These crimes are separate from car burglaries, in which a thief takes something out of the car.
“There’s just a lot of contributing factors why people are stealing vehicles,” SAPD Chief William McManus told the city council’s Public Safety Committee. “One, to take them down into Mexico and sell them. Two, is to commit other crimes.”
McManus told reporters after the meeting that SAPD did not have data to show the cars are, in fact, being sent over the border, but “conversations with other law enforcement agencies is that they’re heading to Mexico with them.”
The chief also acknowledged that social media trends for Kia and Hyundai thefts are contributing to the car theft statistics. The online challenge shows people how to break into a faulty ignition system without a key.
KSAT reported earlier this month that some insurance companies are no longer insuring Kia and Hyundai vehicles due to the TikTok theft trend.
SAPD’s list of the top 10 most stolen vehicles for March is comprised entirely of Kias, Hyundais, and pickup trucks:
- Hyundai Elantra
- Ford F-Series
- Kia Optima
- Hyundai Sonata
- Dodge Ram Series
- Kia Soul
- Chevrolet Silverado
- Kia Forte
- Kia Rio
- Kia Sportage
McManus said the department’s vehicle theft unit needs more investigators.
“So, you know, 18 folks for a million-and-a-half population, it’s just not enough,” he told the committee.
The chief also said the police department will overhaul its property crime investigation strategy starting in June but did not elaborate how.