Illinois continues to be one of the worst states for vehicle theft, but authorities are fighting back.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Illinois ranks fifth in the country for the highest vehicle theft rate. Last year, 38,649 vehicles were reported stolen in the Land of Lincoln.
Police say about half of these vehicle thefts occur due to driver error, which includes forgetting to lock doors and leaving keys in the ignition or on seats.
George Baker, Global Vehicle Security Lead with General Motors, said there are simple preventive measures motorists can take.
“Choosing to lock the doors, choosing to leave vehicles only with the remote start activated so that there is never a vehicle running with the key inside that’s unoccupied, and choosing to treat the fob as if it were an envelope full of $100 bills,” said Baker.
If a vehicle is stolen, the odds of getting it back in one piece are slim. According to the most recent National Insurance Crime Bureau analysis, the average recovery rate for motor vehicles reported stolen within the first 24 hours is 34%.
In some areas of the state, automated license plate readers are being installed, including along interstates in Metro East St. Louis.
The cameras take still photos of license plates that authorities can use to identify vehicles used during a crime, Illinois State Police said in a news release. The agency “uses images from the ALPRs to track the path of a suspect vehicle, which can lead to the apprehension and arrest of suspects,” the release said.
“At a time now where crimes on the highway, crimes committed by vehicles, stolen vehicles on the rise, this is a key component in deterring a lot of the major crimes in our community,” said East St. Louis Chief of Police Kendall Perry. “As we move ourselves towards the 21st century with technology, this is going to be as they’ve said a game-changer.”
The cameras have been used in the Chicago area for some time and police say they have been an important tool to help reduce expressway crime.
ISP director Brendon Kelly said the cameras will only be used for serious crimes.
“This is not for traffic enforcement,” said Kelly. “This is not a tool used to catch people speeding. That’s not what the technology can be used for.”
Illinois Radio Network