Study: Tow trucks stealing cars now a trend

Rush Hour

(NewsNation) — Police say car thieves using tow trucks have targeted cars in Washington, D.C., at least three times since December.

A study from the National Insurance Crime Bureau Report found D.C. has 18 car thefts a day — the second-highest theft rate in the nation in 2021 with 651 thefts per 100,000 residents. It’s a figure that’s also higher than the 562 thefts per 100,000 residents in 2020.

Some of those thefts caught on camera by unsuspecting victims.

In one instance, which took place in December, surveillance shows a man wearing black near a car parked on the street, and a black tow truck with no markings pulling up in the next frame,

A woman tells NewsNation her parents were visiting from Ohio and found their car gone.

Footage from another example shows a tow truck carjacking taking place in Peoria, Arizona.

Police there are trying to identify the suspects, stressing that the owner was current on their payments, and according to one of the police reports in D.C., a lot of the tow trucks are unmarked — which is against the law in the city. 

NewsNation spoke to one of the victims, Lyndon Bilal, who had his brand new Honda Accord hauled away from outside his D.C. home in August. He says the nature of the job made him suspicious.

“An ordinary thief — i’m not sure how they would have tired to steal the car so after seeing the video, I was just, like, ‘Wow, this is how they did it,'” Bilal said.

“My hope is that they will use all the evidence … and seriously go after these guys because it’s so brazen,” Bilal said.

More of these cases have been reported in New Jersey, Ohio, California and Georgia.

Police say it can be tough to investigate cases like this because in some instances, people think their car is stolen when it was legally towed because they parked illegally or the cars were repossessed.

But police believe three D.C. cases are suspicious and the owners did nothing wrong. 

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