“It’s a crime of opportunity,” he said.
In most cases, the thieves do not sell the cars whole or hacked for the parts, which they did a decade or two ago. The police bring back many vehicles, sometimes within a few hours.
Thieves use them for a short time, in some cases to commit another crime, to make it more difficult to relate them to that crime, Gould said.
And he said, “Sometimes it’s easier to get in a car and drive it than calling a cab or calling an Uber. If anyone even looks for it, they’re done.”
James Unger, from West Seneca Police Department, said his department had found, in most cases, that the cars were being used for a few days either for “driving pleasure” or to encourage other criminal activities that, if licensed, would confuse the perpetrators Platte is captured during her crimes. West Seneca saw a slight increase from 32 to 35 cases from 2019 to 2020, but the city had seven cases as early as 2021.
What makes the proliferation of crime more of a scratch is that these days, with advances in technology, it should be a lot harder to steal a vehicle without a key or electronic tag.
“You can’t wire a car anymore,” said Rinaldo.
These days, car thieves are looking for vehicles that are still running or rummaging in unlocked cars, looking for spare keys tucked away in the console or in the glove compartment.