Auto theft is no source of entertainment, as many video games and media sources may portray. Individuals might face misdemeanor or felony charges in these cases. It is a serious crime regardless of the charges issued.
The risk related to these crimes is also on the rise in North Carolina.
Vehicle theft is becoming an area of concern
There are two particular issues at hand when it comes to the rise of vehicle theft in North Carolina:
- Vehicle parts: From 2019 to 2020, the rate of catalytic converter thefts increased considerably across the nation. These thefts occur because of the valuable materials within these parts. However, in response to the increase in thefts, North Carolina lawmakers passed a law to make the possession of a stolen catalytic converter a felony.
- Vehicles: The theft of actual vehicles has increased as well, thanks to social media. A recent trend has teens film themselves stealing cars, often Hyundai or Kia vehicles, and post it on the viral video platform, TikTok, afterward. The trend is to steal vehicles for a joyride, but it often results in significant damage to the vehicles. Additionally, even if it is just a joyride, the law views it as theft.
As we discussed in a previous blog post, social media is playing a large role in increasing crime – and the risk of criminal charges. Teenagers can get wrapped up in trends without fully realizing the risks. Police can track posts and use geographic data to locate individuals to issue charges.
In North Carolina, auto theft is often a Class H felony, which can result in up to 25 months of jail time. While this may carry lesser penalties than other felony classes, it is not something to overlook. A felony on one’s criminal record can have serious consequences.
More crime leads to more enforcement
Lawmakers and law enforcement alike are taking action against this increase in theft, as noted above. As lawmakers work to increase penalties for these offenses, law enforcement officers often work to create task forces that combat them. With theft steadily increasing in North Carolina, it would come as no surprise if police begin to implement such task forces or even sting operations.
Individuals must be aware of the rising risks.