MINNEAPOLIS -- Carjackings in Minneapolis are down 45% this year, but police are focusing on another rising trend: stolen cars.
Car thefts are up more than 95% from this time last year. Last week alone, 190 cars were stolen in Minneapolis, 76% of which were Kias and Hyundais.
"This is an outrageous problem here in the neighborhoods," said Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara. "People see everyday kids out joyriding in these cars, driving reckless and it's a real public safety hazard."
O'Hara says auto theft has been a problem in the city since last summer.
"It is completely driven by the thefts of different types of Kias and Hyndais. It's a problem at this point that feels totally out of control," he added.
Out of control, Chief O'Hara says because the young people behind the wheel of these stolen cars have no fear of consequences.
"The kids are being brought in by the cops and released immediately and then back out to the same environment. No services, no accountability, no nothing and the next thing you know they are in one of these cars again," he said.
Some are even using these stolen vehicles as weapons. Escape attempts resulted in 17 squad cars being rammed by stolen vehicles so far this year
"Kids as young as 11 and 12 years old getting involved in very serious car accidents and then they get involved in more and more serious crime," O'Hara said.
According to MPD, in 2022, young people connected to car thefts were involved in five murder cases. Thirteen were involved in shootings, 36 in robberies, and 265 in motor vehicle accidents.
O'Hara believes car manufacturers need to be held accountable for not outfitting their vehicles with safety systems that prevent them from being stolen so easily.
"At the same time when police take kids into custody that are involved in crimes in these cars there needs to be some sense of accountability, there needs to be some consequence, there needs to be some kind of support for Mom and grandma who come to us and say 'I can't control my kid'," O'Hara said.
MPD says it needs help from the community to help stop the rising number of stolen vehicles. They say know where your children are, and if you own a Kia or Hyundai use a steering wheel lock, and if you can, park in a garage.
WATCH MORE: O'Hara discusses future of policing in Minneapolis
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