There is an epidemic in Nashville and the cure involves common sense.
Last year, 2500 cars were stolen in Nashville, 70% of those had the keys inside.
From January to March 2014, 172 cars were stolen in Nashville. For the same period in 2018, 573 cars were stolen, a 233% increase.
Metro police Lt. Blaine Whited is part of the Juvenile Crime Task Force and he spends a lot of his time trying to stop kids from stealing cars.
“I would easily say 60-70% of stolen cars are being stolen by youth in the city,” Lt. Whited said. “A 10-year-old brought a gun to school that was stolen, we’ve had a 12-year-old go up with a handgun and carjack a young mother of her car.”
It’s a kid crime wave, and it doesn’t stop at just stealing cars. But car theft is where it starts. Lt. Whited says it’s a gateway crime.
“So, that car gets stolen, it then goes out and its used in a shooting, an aggravated assault, its used to run through the doors of a business, a gun store let’s say to burglarize the businesses, its used to go out an commit an aggravated robbery because they just go and bump into you with that stolen car while you are sitting at a red light and you think it’s just a simple crash and the next thing you know, you are being carjacked of your car and it all started with a simple stolen vehicle.”
Lt. Whited says car theft in Nashville is at epidemic levels.
“We’ll see 50 to 90 cars stolen a week here in Nashville.”
He says car theft has become very sophisticated.
“So, we will see them on surveillance cameras, they will roll into a neighborhood or apartment complex at night, the driver will let two or three other youth out and they just start roaming the roads and complexes checking door handles.”
Lt. Whited also says these young offenders are bold.
“We know that these kids, as soon as they are going out and stealing these cars and firearms and committing their crimes, they are broadcasting live on social media, they get their views, they get comments and I think it kind of incentivizes them to go out and commit further crime.”
The good news is, amazingly, Metro police say more than 80% of stolen cars will be recovered within seven to 10 days. Lt. Whited says the bad news is, “it’s not their car, they don’t care for it, they often times crash it. These kids often do not have drivers’ licenses and do not know how to drive. It often times had drugs in it, you might get your car back but it’s not going to be the same car that it was before you had it stolen.”
What frustrates police is around 70% of cars stolen were left running or had keys left in the vehicle.
The request repeated over and over and over by police, secure your car and secure your firearms.
“If we can get just one to not leave their car accessible or a weapon in their car, we know we can prevent crime up to homicide,” Whited said.