Prince George’s Chief of Police, Malik Aziz, discussed how cooperation across jurisdictions and technology is helping local agencies solve car theft cases faster and deter additional offenses.
According to a recent podcast by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government, Prince George’s and Montgomery County Police Departments have been getting creative to curb the recent, nationwide surge in carjackings. Prince George’s Police Chief, Malik Aziz, joined the host to discuss what they have been experiencing with car thefts in the area and how they are tackling the challenge while also being down 300 officers across the force. Tracking devices and information sharing have been critical to the recent success they are seeing in solving car theft cases and recovering stolen property.
The increase in car thefts is not exclusive to the Washington Metropolitan region but has been felt nationwide. It began following a widely reported security deficiency in Kia and Hyundai vehicles, which represented an exponential increase in known opportunities for offenders. The “Kia Challenge,” as it became known on social media, quickly evolved into a game where car thieves and novice offenders were regularly stealing vehicles. Chief Aziz shared that while some cars are showing up in ports, the majority of them are being taken for joyrides or used in the execution of another crime or carjacking.
Prince George’s and Montgomery have ongoing solid relationships with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, but as car thefts increased, that communication became daily. Chief Aziz said this has aided his department in more vehicle recoveries and cases closed because offenders are often assuming if they cross into another jurisdiction they are no longer being tracked by law enforcement. A shared database identifying stolen vehicles, including those with tracking devices, allows officers across the region to collaborate in real time. This ensures that when a vehicle in one jurisdiction goes missing it shows up on the radar of a neighboring law enforcement agency.