National report ranks Wichita 8th for vehicle thefts

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The National Insurance Crime Bureau released 2018 statistics Tuesday showing that auto thefts are on the rise in Wichita.

According to the bureau's report, Wichita jumped from 27th in the nation to 8th in the nation after 3,547 vehicles were stolen in 2018. That's an increase of 372 vehicles from the previous year. The thefts include Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, and Sumner counties. However, one source within the bureau said this jump is not uncommon.

"It's not unusual," said Frank Scafidi, director of public relations for the bureau. "It's not that common, but we do see from time to time, some communities, they make a huge jump on the list."

Wichita Police say they are aware of the high numbers from last year. Lt. Scott Brunow of the department's auto thefts section, said where they all happen fluctuates.

"In a 7 day or 28 day period those hot spots will fluctuate, they'll move around," he said.

However, he said if you look from year to date, the hot spots are all over the city. According to Brunow, in May and June they have seen small increases, but overall this year's numbers have gone down. For instance, dropping 17% in auto thefts, among others.

"Robberies we've seen a 23% decrease, year to date, and burglaries 18% year to date decrease," Brunow said.

He said larceny to auto crimes are the only ones they have seen slightly increase, and they are working to fix that.

"If we see a hot spot, in a certain part of town, that's seeing an increase we'll devote resources to that area to combat it," he said.

One resident said she had a close call at her apartment, when a man checking car door handles got into her boyfriends car.

"They just took like, pocket change, chapstick, sunglasses and his name tag," said Marta Swartz.

She said it scared her. Recently she's seen people on social media post about their cars being stolen as well.

"It's kind of scary," she said. "I've had a few friends posting on Facebook, like 'Hey have you seen this truck?' 'Have you seen this car? 'Somebody stole our car."

Lt. Brunow says police are also working on helping detectives provide more information and present cases in better ways to get them charged.

According to the report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, national auto thefts are decreasing. The report states a 3% drop in 2018 compared to 2017 where 770,000 vehicles were stolen. The peak year of auto thefts was in 1991 with 1.6 million vehicles stolen, according to the report. The Los Angeles metro saw the most auto thefts in 2018 with 54,000.