In Rochester, stolen car numbers are down – way down

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – There are still cars getting stolen in our city, but we were surprised when we looked at what’s happened over the last two weeks.

The number has dropped off a cliff.

In June, the city of Rochester saw nearly 400 KIAs and Hyundais stolen. So far in September, it’s down to 50.

Police don’t think it’s because school started. The worst months were in the spring when kids were in schools.

They say it’s a combination of public awareness, more security, and a change in the way they handle teenagers caught in stolen cars.

But when a car is stolen – and it’s still happening – it is life-changing.

Video obtained by News10NBC shows a Kia Sol speeding and swerving on a neighborhood street, followed by two other cars with people hanging out of the windows.

The vehicle belonged to Christie Peterkin and it was stolen from her work.

“It was a lot. I was like, how am I supposed to get home? ” she said.

Peterkin’s car was ditched behind a city home. In the home security video that captured that, you can hear the police sirens from the chase.

“My understand is like they’re 12, 13 and 14 years old,” Peterkin said. “And one of them had an ankle brace on – bracelet, excuse me – for previous thefts.”

As bad as it is for Peterkin, the overall situation is better.

From January to July, RPD recorded more than 300 stolen Kias and Hyundais almost every month. In August, at 222, we start to see the numbers decline.

And over the last 14 days of September, the number is only 50.

Here are the numbers month by month in 2023:

April 344
May 346
June 375
July 306

Chief investigative journalist Berkeley Brean, News10NBC: “Is this sustainable?
Lt. Greg Bello, Rochester Police: “Our hope is that it is.”

So why the decline in thefts? Bello attributes it to the public awareness all year, thousands of steering wheel locks handed out, security upgrades on Kias and Hyundais, and detaining teenagers arrested in Monroe County’s Juvenile Enhanced Diversion Stabilization.

“So rather than giving them an appearance ticket to where they show up to family court three to five days later with nothing going on in that three, four, five days, is we’re holding those kids and the county is providing those services right then and there,” he said.

Bello says of the approximately 130 kids arrested in the JEDS program since it started in the spring, only six have been arrested again.

“Which is phenomenal numbers from an enforcement aspect,” Bello said.

The worst month we had for stolen cars was was June. We averaged 12 stolen KIAs and Hyundais a day.

In September, the average is three.