More than 50 cars stolen in DC in first few days of 2024

The troubling spike in stolen cars in the District seems to be continuing into 2024.

According to D.C. police data, there were 6,829 thefts of motor vehicles last year — an 82% increase from the previous year.

In the first four days of 2024, 53 cars have already been stolen.

On New Year’s Day, Jessie Sethi and her husband had just gotten off a train at Union Station, and had loaded their luggage into the trunk of a Lyft.

“I touched the car, and all of a sudden I feel the car moving, and the Lyft driver screaming ‘hey, hey, that’s my car,'” Sethi told NBC Washington.

The thief drove away with the Lyft vehicle, including the couple’s luggage.

NBC Washington reports that D.C. police located the stolen car, including the Sethi’s luggage, but the person who drove the car away is unaccounted for.

D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department has been handing out digital tracking tags to help locate vehicles in areas of the District that have been hardest hit by car thefts.

Mayor Muriel Bowser introduced the beginning of the air tag program in November 2023.

“These tags and tiles will help MPD recover stolen vehicles and hold people accountable,” Bowser said. “The word will also get out that this is not a community to come in and steal cars because it won’t be worth your while.”

Then-acting police chief Pamela Smith said the air tag program will help recover stolen vehicles and provide evidence that can reduce the rash of thefts.

“What we know is individuals that are involved in this type of criminal activity often commit multiple offenses, and a single arrest can help bring closure to multiple cases,” Smith said.

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino contributed to this report. 

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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