How bad is Baltimore’s auto theft problem? Even the police aren’t immune.

Police confirmed an unmarked 2018 silver Kia Optima owned by the department was stolen Tuesday around 11:55 p.m. from the unit block of Grant Street. The vehicle theft is part of a surging trend troubling Baltimore and other cities.

The number of auto thefts in the city has jumped to rates not seen since the mid-‘90s. Auto thefts have nearly quintupled year over year. In the first 22 days of July, 1,378 autos have been reported stolen to Baltimore Police. Last year during the same period, it was 294, according to a Baltimore Banner analysis of crime data.

Maryland State Police reported in April that thefts of Kias and Hyundais have increased nearly 50% over the past year. Baltimore City filed a federal lawsuit against the manufacturers, arguing the companies created a public nuisance by making cars that can be stolen easily.

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Videos showing how to steal the vehicles using a screwdriver and a USB charging cord have racked up millions of views on TikTok.

Baltimore isn’t the only city to struggle with a spike in auto thefts. Washington, D.C., has seen a 117% increase in car thefts as of July 26. Philadelphia and Chicago have also reported increases of 102% and 121%, respectively.

In Baltimore, many neighborhoods in the Northeast have borne the brunt of the surge. In Loch Raven and Hamilton Hills, twice the number of cars have been stolen already this year compared to all of last year. The same is true in Canton and the Patterson Park neighborhoods.

Baltimore Banner reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this story.

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