The city is teaming up with the Association for a Better New York to try and put the brakes on the rising number of car thefts, thanks in part to a social media trend on TikTok.
Users of the social media app have been posting videos of themselves exploiting a technology glitch to jump-start Hyundais and Kias with a USB cord and a screwdriver. That’s why the Association for a Better New York agreed to donate 500 Apple AirTags to the city so future victims could track their vehicles if they’re ever stolen.
“Using technology to fight crime, protect people, save property is a direction this administration and this police department is going in,” Mayor Eric Adams said while rolling out the technology in the Bronx on Sunday.
The NYPD will be doling out the new devices to drivers of vehicles most often targeted in these kinds of thefts. The AirTags are to be hidden inside the car, where potential thieves can’t spot them, thus making it simple for victims to track their stolen vehicles in real time.
There have been 966 Hyundais and Kias taken this year alone, the NYPD said – 819 more than last year. There have been 207 grand larceny auto incidents recorded in the Bronx’s 43rd Precinct alone so far this year, officials said, including nine in the last week.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said last month the department had started noticing a spike around September, from an average of 10-12 Hyundais and Kias stolen per month to about 100 by December. She said the Bronx and Upper Manhattan have seen the largest jump in thefts.
In a statement to Gothamist last month, Hyundai said it has taken multiple steps to prevent thefts and that it is “committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products.” Kia did not return requests seeking comment.
Chairman of the Association for a Better New York Steven Rubenstein said the decision to donate the tracking devices stemmed from a desire to stifle the growing trend before it ballooned any further.
“You’re trying something new. We’re seeking a new approach. It’s a bit of technology,” he said. “It’s a simple idea, but it’s an innovative one. And we really believe in trying things to see how they work.”
The NYPD will not have access to any live AirTag information, officials said. Instead, officers will help future victims track stolen vehicles via their own personal phones.News Source: Gothamist