As stolen vehicle numbers surge, Wayne County launches auto theft task force

A new auto theft task force has been created in Wayne County to help combat the epidemic of auto theft around the country and in Metro Detroit.

Six police agencies are joining forces to create the Dearborn Metro Auto Theft Task Force which will include a special investigator with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

"These vehicles are far too easily stolen - with a pro pad you can steal a Chrysler in mere seconds," said Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin.

It’s not just the Chryslers.

"There's the Kia/Hyundai situation where these cars were easily stolen with a USB, you could put in the ignition" he added.

"When a one-car family member comes out, the trickle-down effect is devastating," said Kim Miles, Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

In Dearborn Heights for example, there have been 125 vehicles stolen just since the first of the year.

"That's 125 opportunities where one of our residents will walk out of their homes to go to work in the morning and discover that their vehicle was stolen," said Chief Jerrod Hart, Dearborn Heights Police.

That staggering stats plague Southeast Michigan.  The Auto Theft Task Force launched on June 1, and already – four vehicles were seized and tens of thousands of dollars in equipment to steal vehicles. 

Often times the stolen cars are used in other crimes. Just last week, two pharmacies were robbed in Dearborn Heights, and the crew used a stolen Kia leading police on a chase in Livonia, where they were caught.

"We are defending our community, we will do constitutional policing," Hart said. "We are going to work hard as a force multiplier."

Shahin says people don’t stop for the police like they used to, cascading into so many other issues trying to retrieve stolen cars, and bringing offenders to justice.

"Managing a police chase is very difficult," he said. "So you are weighing the severity of the crime against the likelihood of apprehension and the danger to the public. And we're asking officers to do this all in a fraction of seconds, while they are chasing vehicles at high speeds.

Although there has been no coordination with automakers on this task force, that group of law enforcement say automakers need to do a better job making their cars harder to steal and putting in anti-theft devices should come standard.