NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The FBI just revealed the latest crime trends its tracking in Tennessee. Among the data, a 20% increase in auto thefts from 2022 alone is a major talking point.
According to the latest FBI crime report, the numbers show many types of crime, from rape to aggravated assault, are trending downward. However, the same can’t be said for auto thefts, which in Tennessee have not only steadily increased since 2019, but are also above the national average. Among the areas in Middle Tennessee trending higher – Murfreesboro and Metro Nashville.
“I wouldn’t say it’s surprising, but it is concerning to some extent that this is happening all across the country. People feel the need that they have to steal someone’s car and that’s a trickle-down effect,” said Larry Flowers, the public information officer for the Murfreesboro Police Department.
FBI data shows in Murfreesboro, theft rates per 100,000 people rose from 267 reports to 362 from 2019-2022. In that time frame, Metro Nashville’s reports increased from 2,771 to 2,987.
Statewide, there were more than 31,300 thefts from motor vehicles reported in 2022.
“One of the biggest contributing factors for us here in Murfreesboro with auto thefts is our proximity to Nashville. You have people who are stealing cars in Nashville bringing them to Murfreesboro and ditching them. Therefore, they need a ride back, so they’re breaking into cars here and taking them to Metro,” said Flowers.
The uptick in crime is impacting owners like Smyrna resident Lakeithea Anderson, who had her car stolen in Rutherford County this month.
“Trying to find a ride to places, the financial burden, and then also feeling like something has been taken from you,” said Anderson.
On Thursday, the Metro Nashville Police Department sent out a statement urging Hyundai and KIA owners to schedule anti-theft software upgrades at local dealerships in the hopes of deterring car thieves. This comes after a viral social media trend this summer prompted significant increase in auto thefts of those two makes.
“KIA and Hyundai have come out with a fix for it. It basically patches it so that the car will not start, and it basically recognizes that the key to the car is in the car so that that glitch is fixed,” said Sgt. Erik Nash with the Vehicle Crimes Unit for MNPD.