Car thefts in St. Louis and Kansas City, MO. are not new problems. But officials say thieves are changing their preferences as thefts involving older cars are on the rise. Some are suggesting a new law may be to blame, actually encouraging thefts of cars more than 10 years old.
According to The Kansas City Star, the Missouri law was designed to make it easier to get rid of junk cars. But it could be having unintended effects.
The law says that cars 10 years or older can be sold to salvage yards without a title present. The idea was that owners of old cars have often long since lost the titles and are holding on to the vehicles simply because they couldn’t lawfully sell them without the paperwork.
But old cars aren’t the only ones without titles—stolen cars are usually missing them too.
Since the law took effect, St. Louis police have reported a “big surge” in reports of stolen vehicles older than 10 years.
“We have definitely seen an increase in the thefts of older cars,” said a senior special agent for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Brad Greiner.
One problem with the law, says Greiner, is the 10 day period a buyer has to submit paperwork on the vehicle to the state. By the time 10 days have elapsed, most salvage cars have been destroyed, making it difficult to identify those that might match a stolen vehicle report.
Kansas City police has noted a 5% increase in stolen cars in 2012 but is hesitant to say the jump is related to the new law. St. Louis police and in particular their auto theft unit says undoubtedly, the two are related.
“It was done with good intent,” says Brent Butler of the Missouri Insurance Information Service about the new law. “But I can see where it would be attractive to car thieves to make a vehicle inoperable and sell it for junk.”
Sometimes laws are passed with all the good intentions in the world. This doesn’t make them good laws. Case in point: many of the strict and punitive drug laws currently on the books. The intentions were public safety and decreased drug proliferation. The results were an incarceration boom and no changes in the drug trade.
Whether you are accused of stealing a car or selling drugs, you need someone on your side who understands all of the laws (even the bad ones). Contact our offices today to discuss your charges and how we might be able to help.