Underworld of car theft: What you need to know about the rise of this crime in Detroit

Crime is up 28%

DETROIT – Car theft in Detroit is on the rise.

A few months ago, the crime was up 41%. Things are improving, but it is still a serious issue as right now car thefts are up 28% from last year.

There is so much to this crime, which includes a social media element, a secret list of needed car parts, and the way the bad guys are taking your car and no one seems to notice.

Keisha Barber walked out of her boyfriend’s house in the Grandmont neighborhood of Detroit to find that her Ford Explorer was gone.

“My thing is how is it that nobody sees these people pushing these cars?” asked Barber.

We did some digging and found the 11th and 12th precincts are a growing problem. The 10th precinct is getting targeted a lot, and the 3rd precinct, which is this area in midtown and downtown, has seen car theft more than double than last year.

Read: Detroit to waive towing, storage fees for auto theft victims

“One of the things that concerned me was you know, you go to the [police] station. It felt like an assembly line. Like so many people were there because their car was stolen,” said Barber.

Barber’s car was eventually found but the tires that were once on her car were gone.

Hot neighborhoods for theft: Northwest Detroit neighborhoods, including Bagley, Greenfield, and Grandmont - where Keisha’s car was targeted.

Liana Amato had her Hyundai stolen two months ago in midtown. Amato immediately called Wayne State University police. “Now I have a club and I put something else on a lock on the pedal,” said the car theft victim.

“This whole social media thing came out and we’ve just seen a huge increase,” said Detroit police commander Eric Decker. “Something came out on Facebook or TikTok, basically how to steal a Kia, and it’s also applicable to the Hyundai models.”

There’s also the issue of shortages of parts. Shops are having a hard time keeping up with supply and demand. So for those parts that are hard to get, there is an underworld many don’t know about -- a secret list, and then there is the way the bad guys are stealing cars.

“So you put another vehicle behind it, break the transmission or override the transmission basically, and push that vehicle and usually you pull it around the corner and something is stolen off of the vehicle,” explained Decker.

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A few months ago car theft was at 41% - now it’s 28% thanks to more arrests like Kevin Reid and Terry Williams. They were arraigned in February with multiple charges of receiving and concealing stolen property and conducting a criminal enterprise.

Detroit police say there are things you can do. If you are lucky enough to have a garage, put your car in the garage, use your car alarm and light up your house. If you hear a dog barking, go out and check it out - help your neighbors.

Related: Dearborn police warn of people sticking small Apple trackers to cars for stalking, auto theft

Below is a map of the car theft hot spots in Detroit:

About the Author:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.