CrimeTracker Investigation: Thousands of stolen vehicles across New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "I get a call from police saying they tried to stop them, and sure enough they hit a pole," says Kynisha Pugh.
It was last month when police say two girls stole a car and crashed it into a power pole on St. Bernard Avenue.
"My brother ain't had this car a month. I don't know why he left it running at the gas station. These little girls just jumped in and rode and rode," says Pugh.
So far this year, there were 2,101 auto theft cases across New Orleans. More vehicles were stolen this year compared to last year when police investigated 2,024 auto thefts.
Back in October, the NOPD announced plans to double the number of license plate readers across the city in an effort to inform officers when they pass a stolen vehicle.
"We know crime has no boundaries. We believe this is a tool that will help not just the local police department, but out state and federal departments as well to help solve crimes within the city of New Orleans," says Chief Michael Harrison.
Back in July, someone driving a stolen vehicle crashed into a woman and then the thieves bolted from the scene.
That happened in Gentilly, which is the Third District, where police investigated 307 auto thefts so far this year.
FOX 8 used locations listed in the NOPD's calls for service data to create a map showing auto theft hot spots around New Orleans.
Most auto thefts happened in New Orleans East. According to the NOPD, there were 486 auto thefts reported in the Seventh District. It's also the district where state troopers chased a stolen vehicle back in June that ended in a crash. A 2-year-old girl was in that stolen car and died from her injuries.
"In this particular case, the windows were so darkly tinted that we could not see how many occupants were in the vehicle," says State Police Trooper Melissa Matey.
While New Orleans East had the most stolen vehicles, the least amount of auto thefts happened this year in the Fourth District of Algiers. Officers there investigated 133 stolen vehicles. That's 153 fewer auto thefts in the Fourth District compared to the Seventh District so far this year.
The NOPD says despite the numbers being slightly up, they're hoping the addition of those license plate readers will help to solve more cases.
They're also urging everyone to lock their car doors in an effort to reduce auto theft in the future.
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