Metro auto thefts continue to rise, clearance rate falls after national trend

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Auto thefts are on the rise in Nashville, and clearing the cases has been difficult for the Metro Nashville Police Department and other law enforcement agencies nationwide.

According to FBI data, Nashville saw 2,987 auto thefts in 2022, and officers cleared 5.2% of those cases.

Lack of Metro patrol officers raises concerns for some

While the clearance rate may seem low, Jeff Asher, co-founder of AH Datalytics, told News 2 auto theft clearance rates have been falling across the country, partly because the crime can be difficult to solve.

“Auto theft hit single digit clearance rates nationally in 2022 for the first time on record,” Asher said. “Typically, one of the best factors in solving a crime is somebody witnessing it, but auto thefts are much harder to see. In theory the person who the car belongs to is not present when it’s being stolen.”

Auto thefts have continued to rise in Metro over the years, but Nashville isn’t the only city seeing an increase, according to Asher. He noticed national numbers rise after stealing cars became a trend on social media.

FBI’s annual crime report shows auto thefts increasing in TN

“There are lots of auto thefts throughout the country, especially with the recent TikTok video that has caused a surge in auto thefts nationwide. It’s depressing, but not particularly surprising to see increasing auto thefts in various places,” Asher said.

According to Asher, other data, including staffing numbers, the speed at which an officer responds to a crime, and community/police trust, impacts clearance rates for law enforcement agencies.

Asher told News 2 the majority of law enforcement agencies release a very limited amount of data, but Metro police is one of the exceptions and does a good job at being transparent.

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“As far as communicating what is happening in Nashville, they’ve created a holistic set of data dashboards that are excellent, I think, for giving the public an understanding of what they’re dealing with, what the trends are, and how effective they’re being,” Asher said.

While auto theft is up in Nashville, violent crime has dropped nearly 2%, according to Metro police.

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