Borough President Vito Fossella, District Attorney Michael McMahon, and Councilman Joseph Borelli issued a call to action in response to the surge in car thefts across Staten Island, but particularly on the South Shore.
“There may be three of us here, but we think we represent about 500,000 people on Staten Island as it relates to what has become an unmitigated disaster as the number of car thefts have become more brazen, more pronounced, more horrific, and more dangerous," said Borough President Fossella during a press conference on Jan. 11 outside of the 123rd Precinct in Totttenville.
“We don't care if it's here in Tottenville, Mariners Harbor, Randall Manor, or South Beach -- it doesn't matter," he continued. "If Staten Island was a bank and the cars were money, you can add up all the stolen cars and it would probably be one of the largest bank heists in New York State history. It’s not just one-by-one. It’s over 500. It’s going to get darn close to where somebody is going to get seriously hurt or even worse. We have to stand together as the people of Staten Island to say enough is enough. We need to stop this once and for all.”
District Attorney McMahon said 126 vehicles were reported stolen from the 123rd Precinct in 2022, up from 65 in 2021. There were 513 vehicles stolen from across Staten Island in 2022, up from 282 in 2021. He said most of the perpetrators are under 18 and are primarily from New Jersey. They drive into Staten Island in one vehicle, seek out high-end vehicles, steal them one-by-one, and drive them back to New Jersey.
“Some are out for a joyride, some are out to use the vehicles to commit other crimes, and some of the vehicles are being shipped overseas to be sold on the international market for a large profit,” he said.
Borough President Fossella, District Attorney McMahon, and Councilman Borelli laid out a multi-pronged action plan which includes the following: Legislation from Albany which would raise the age for when suspects can be treated as adults rather than juvenile offenders; adding more police officers and detectives to borough streets, and obtaining more cooperation between regional partners, particularly the Port Authority to add license plate readers on the New Jersey bridges like those used on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.
They also called on Staten Islanders to be more be more vigilant in locking their cars and taking their keys with them.
Additionally, an initiative will be announced in the coming weeks called “Island Safe,” which will create a central clearinghouse for Staten Islanders to anonymously share their cell phone videos and home security camera footage.