Before Siri and Alexa arrived on the scene catering to every whim of their voice overlords, tracking an automobile took at least a degree of knowledge – of the tracking device itself and also how to monitor it.
Now, for $25 or less, anyone can purchase a tracking device that is small enough to fit just about anywhere, in someone’s purse, pocket, or automobile.
These tiny trackers have caught the attention of mayors in some of the country’s largest and most crime-ridden cities, as a way to divert attention from their own policies that have spawned serious spikes in vehicle thefts within their jurisdictions.
Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. are among the municipalities jumping aboard the tracking device gimmick as a way to convince residents that the skyrocketing numbers of vehicle thefts can easily be solved by simply by giving vehicle owners handy dandy tracking devices to place in their cars.
Unfortunately, the history of vehicle theft, especially in Democrat-run cities, is a tale that is not so simple to solve.
After years of declining incidents of vehicle thefts in the 1990s and early 2000s, the 2020-2021 COVID pandemic saw a stark reversal of that trend, especially in major metropolitan areas governed by Democrats – including among others, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, and Norfolk; actually tripling in some cities between 2019 and 2022.
The significant decline in vehicle thefts prior to the pandemic was not so much the result of better or more vigorous law enforcement, but rather technology built into cars and pickup trucks that made it more difficult to steal vehicles by “hot wiring” them.
Since 2020, however, carjackings and thefts of catalytic converters have risen significantly; with the latter being a predicament that can cost the vehicle owner thousands of dollars to replace the government-mandated emission-control devices that contain valuable rare-earth metals.
While the increases in auto thefts, at least for Kia and Hyundai vehicles manufactured through the 2021 model year, can be blamed in part on a Tik Tok video “challenge” that went viral in 2021-22 showing how easy it was to steal these makes of cars (which had no built-in “immobilizers”), there is no escaping the fact that policies instituted by a number of cities and states share much of the blame for the dramatic rise in vehicle thefts.
When Washington state enacts a law prohibiting police from pursuing stolen cars, it should come as no surprise that car owners in the Evergreen State have had to deal with a significant rise in theft of their vehicles. Similarly, when cities like Aurora, Colorado face shortage in their police ranks officers are pulled away from auto theft cases, with a resulting spike in vehicle theft.
Then there are George Soros-backed prosecutors like Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner, who views auto theft as a crime unworthy of his prosecutorial attention.
And, it does not take a rocket scientist to predict that when, for years as in Portland, Oregon, car thieves are not prosecuted or punished (even as repeat offenders), car thefts rise and remain high.
So we now have city leaders in cities where hard-working citizens are having their vehicles stolen in record numbers, being offered a “free” tracking device as a panacea for bad policing, bad judging, and indifferent prosecutors.
Adding insult to injury, Washington, D.C. officials are easing citizens’ privacy concerns about the tracking devices by claiming inaccurately that only the vehicle owner will have access to or be able to share the tracking information.
In fact, accessing such devices can easily be tracked by persons other than the owner of the device. However, in a city like Washington, D.C. or Baltimore, Maryland, where crime of all sorts is rampant, it should surprise no one that public officials will say or do anything to shift the blame for their bad policy decisions onto inanimate devices such as cars without “immobilizers” or tracking devices.
No matter how many tracking devices these mayors give away, until they get serious about prosecuting vehicle thefts and other crimes infecting their cities, vehicles will continue to be stolen with impunity.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.