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MPD taking special measures to address rising number of car thefts

Car theft is a problem sweeping the entire country and an issue that has doubled in prevalence in Madison since 2017.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Car theft is a problem sweeping the entire country and an issue that has doubled in prevalence in Madison since 2017.

The United States saw a jump of 17 percent in car theft in 2021 compared to 2019 numbers, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In Madison, the Madison Police Department’s crime reports show a similar trend, with car thefts in 2021 nearly double (834) the numbers in 2017 (449). The disturbing trend is putting the crime in focus for the MPD, and chief Shon Barnes included it in the MPD Summer Strategic Plan, highlighting several crimes the department hopes to address over the summer.

Detective sergeant of the Burglary Crime Unit, Scott Reitmeier, says that while the problem is widespread, certain cars are more susceptible than others.

“We’ve really seen a large margin of stolen vehicles going up in the area of some certain models like Kias and Hyundais,” said Reitmeier.

He attributes this to the icnition system in Kias after 2011 and Hyundais from 2015 to 2020, possessing fewer defenses to a break-in. He recommends drivers take rdriverstake extra measures, like steering wheel locks, to secure their cars. The hope is fewer car thefts will lead to fewer crimes in general.

“Lots of times stolen vehicles are used to commit more burglaries, sometimes vehicles are stolen in the burglary and then used to continue the spree, hopefully stopping this on the lower level will stop those ones also,” said Reitmeier.

It’s a sentiment echoed by surrounding police departments, like Sun Prairie.

“There are those that are taking the vehicle, driving it erratically, simply to do that, and there are those where it is definitely associated with other crimes,” said Sun Prairie Police Department spokesperson Ryan Cox.

And Reitmeier says it’s not just more resources but new tech and policies thrown at the problem. According to him, the department tracks incidents, finding trouble spots down to the block. Such tech helps use officers more efficiently and tries to prevent crime from occurring. Stolen cars are now also assigned to detectives for investigation. And Reitmeier also mentioned the MPD community outreach programs with area youth as another tool to curb crime.

“We’re meeting weekly, not only internally here but also with our other law enforcement partners, other jurisdictions in our area and across the state,” said Reitmeier.

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