Auto theft is rampant in Baltimore. Even Banner journalists have had their automobiles stolen or broken into, one within days of moving to the city.
The trend started in May, when a national increase in auto thefts coincided with the “Kia Boys” TikTok challenge. Videos on that platform and other social media sites showed how to steal Hyundais and Kias in under 30 seconds with just a screwdriver and a USB.
Compared to neighboring localities, though, Baltimore’s auto theft rate this year has been especially high. The city’s rate was also higher than nearby neighbors Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
Inside the city, no neighborhood has had more auto thefts this year than Frankford. This Northeastern Baltimore neighborhood is the 2023 epicenter of auto thefts — and a three-block area near the Goodnow Hill apartments has had it the worst.
Our Anne Arundel County reporter, Royale Bonds, had her car stolen within days of moving to Baltimore. She wrote a step-by-step guide on what to do if your car gets stolen. There's not much you can do about your insurance rates, though.
People whose cars are stolen aren't the only ones affected by this spike in auto thefts. The industries that tow, repair and sell cars have had to handle the surges, too.
Most people arrested by Baltimore Police for auto thefts are adults. Just 35% of people arrested for stolen cars this year are juveniles, according to the Baltimore Police Department. Even when a juvenile is arrested, things get complicated.
Baltimore officials are expanding a slew of efforts to combat auto thefts in the city. The car theft spike could be a political liability in the 2024 mayoral election.
Reporting by Greg Morton, Jasmine Vaughn-Hall, Royale Bonds, Adam Willis, Penelope Blackwell, Brenda Wintrode, Dylan Segelbaum, Lillian Reed, Hugo Kugiya, Brenna Smith and Ramsey Archibald. Natalie Davis, Dylan Manfre and Sarah Siock reported for the Capital New Service.
Illustrations and comic by Laila Milevski. Photography by Jessica Gallagher, Kaitlin Newman, Kylie Cooper, Ulysses Muñoz and Hugo Kugiya. Design and development by Ryan Little, Emma Patti Harris and Greg Morton. Audience, social and reader engagement by T.J. Ortenzi, Stokely Baksh and Krishna Sharma.
Lead editing by Kimi Yoshino, Richard Martin and Ryan Little. Additional editing by Emma Patti Harris, John O'Connor, Brett Barrouquere, Carrie Mihalcik and the Capital News Service's Adam Marton. Copy editing by Leah Brennan, Michael Hughes and Michael Crist.