-The following article was submitted by Delegates Ryan Nawrocki & Kathy Szeliga (District 7A) and Lauren Arikan (District 7B)-
We are among seven prominent Republican legislators issuing a letter to Mayor Scott and Commissioner Harrison of Baltimore City in response to the recent lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia due to their vehicles’ alleged susceptibility to theft. We urge Baltimore City to do more than join the lawsuit against car manufacturers.
According to crime statistics, Baltimore is one of the most dangerous cities in the country. However, in their recent move to sue Hyundai/Kia, they blame auto manufacturers for car thefts.
While Hyundai/Kia cars have been the target of theft due to a recent social media video, 59% of cars stolen are not those brands. Based on the police crime data, we suggest a plan focusing on the root cause of crime rather than blaming car manufacturers.
Suppose the City is going to hold car manufacturers responsible for car thefts. In that case, it must also send a clear message that Baltimore City will not tolerate carjackings or auto theft and that those who commit these crimes will be held accountable.
According to data from the Baltimore Police Department, there have been 2,200 auto thefts and 159 carjackings in the 4½ months of this year. Last year, there were 2,473 auto thefts, but only 397
arrests were made, and only seven led to a guilty prosecution.
Auto theft is a serious crime. First, the victim feels violated, is inconvenienced without a vehicle, and has to sort through insurance issues. At the same time, they wait for their car to be found (if it is ever located).
Then, to put salt into the wound, the EZ Pass, toll violations, and speed camera tickets may show up from the stolen license plates installed on another car.
Many friends and family members have expressed concerns about going to Baltimore City because of crime, squeegee kids, carjackings and auto thefts. As a result, some people will not visit the City any longer.
The City is losing its population. This is a shame. Baltimore City must get a handle on crime to keep our once great City alive and enable the residents and economy to thrive.
We look forward to a response from the Mayor’s Office in regard to our concerns.
Following is the letter to the Honorable Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison:
May 17, 2023
Dear Mayor Scott and Commissioner Harrison, We found it interesting that Baltimore City is joining a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia, due to alleged susceptibility of auto theft.
We understand your concerns about auto theft in Baltimore City. Numerous people have told us they fear getting carjacked or having their vehicle stolen, discouraging them from visiting the city.
According to your May 11th press release, Hyundai and Kia’s model cars are more vulnerable to theft than other brands, constituting 41% of all stolen vehicles. This implies that 59% of stolen cars belong to different brands.
Baltimore City Police Department data shows over 2,200 auto thefts and 159 carjackings in the 5 ½ months this year. Last year, there were 2,473 auto thefts, but only 397 arrests were made – only 7 of which received a guilty verdict. That works out as one conviction for every 353 cars stolen.
One conviction for every 353 cars stolen shows that if a criminal steals a car in Baltimore City, they are nearly guaranteed to get away with the crime. However, if the criminal is caught, they will receive a slap on the wrist, leaving victims of car theft and carjackings not receiving the justice they deserve.
Auto theft and carjackings involve the loss of property and put people in physical danger, even resulting in death. The victims and taxpayers of Maryland deserve better. These crimes lead to the loss of life and property, drive up insurance costs, and have a negative economic impact when tourists and visitors stay away from the city. Residents and visitors to Baltimore City should be safe, and so should their vehicles.
We urge you to send a clear message that Baltimore City Police and prosecutors will hold criminals accountable for auto theft and carjackings.
Therefore, in addition to the current lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia, we believe that more should be done to create awareness, assist people in measures for their protection, and invest in better technology and other strategies to ensure that criminals are caught and prosecuted appropriately.
By adopting a well-publicized and aggressive law and order approach to fighting carjackings and auto theft, Baltimore City can assure citizens and tourists that their safety is the top priority.
We stand ready to support any legislation you need in the next legislative session to get more criminals apprehended, prosecuted, and incarcerated when they engage in carjackings and auto theft.
Furthermore, we hope to see legislative initiatives introduced to hold juveniles accountable when they commit these heinous crimes that have even led to the death of innocent bystanders.
Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter. Sincerely,
Benjamin Joesph has covered news in Eastern Baltimore County since 2006. He started as a reporter with the original East County Times in 2006. He started East Baltco News and later Eastcountytimes.com in 2022.