Protect Your Property from Nationwide Vehicle Theft Trend

Published on January 12, 2023

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ARLINGTON, Va. – In December, officers arrested and charged four individuals after recovering stolen vehicles which had their steering columns damaged in order to bypass the ignition. These arrests follow a rise in vehicle thefts reported in communities across the country after videos on how to steal certain makes and models have circulated widely on social media sites. The Arlington County Police Department is sharing information regarding these thefts and steps motorists can take to help protect their property.

At approximately 7:29 p.m. on December 19, police received an alert for a stolen vehicle and located it parked and unoccupied in the 1600 block of S. Hayes Street. During the course of the investigation, officers determined three additional vehicles in the parking lot were also reported stolen. Officers approached a group as they returned to the vehicles and the group ran. A foot pursuit was initiated and officers detained six individuals. Based on the investigation, four of the individuals were arrested and charged. Aziyah Johnson, 18, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny of a Motor Vehicle and Possession of Burglarious Tools. Malik Blocker, 19, of Temple Hills, MD was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle. Xavier Mitchell, 18, of Laurel, MD was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle and Receiving Stolen Goods. Marquis Hailstorks, 20, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle and Possession of Burglarious Tools.

Method of Theft

Reported incidents indicate suspects force entry into vehicles by smashing a window. Once inside, they bypass the ignition and start the vehicle after removing the steering column. Involved vehicles commonly include Hyundai and Kia models made between 2011-2022 which do not have push-button starts and use a traditional turn-key ignition.

Help Prevent Vehicle Thefts with these Crime Prevention Tips

Property crimes, such as motor vehicle theft and larcenies from auto, are often crimes of opportunity. Regardless of vehicle make and model, police recommend following the below tips to help keep your vehicles and property safe.

  • Use a steering wheel or pedal locking device.
  • Consider aftermarket alarm systems or anti-theft devices.
  • Park in well-lit areas and activate exterior lights at your home.
  • Remove valuables from your parked vehicle.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park. Double click the lock button on the key fob to receive a confirmation beep/chirp or pull on the door handle to verify it’s locked.
  • Do not leave your keys, key fobs, or valet keys in your vehicle. This includes keys to a secondary vehicle.
  • Keep information, such as the make, model, model year, license plate and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) easily accessible in the event your vehicle is stolen.
  • Participate in the 9 P.M. Routine and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do so too.

Report Criminal Activity to Police for Investigation

Arlington County Police officers proactively patrol Arlington’s neighborhoods to identify and prevent criminal activity. The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of members of the public. Common suspicious activity in auto-related crime cases include observing individual(s) looking into your or your neighbors’ cars, individual(s) walking down the street and trying multiple vehicle door handles, and vehicles with open doors with the interior dome lights on. Community members observing criminal activity should contact the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222. If you see a suspect in your vehicle, do not approach them and dial 9-1-1 immediately.

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