A preliminary analysis release in January by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows national vehicle thefts increased in 2020 by 9.2 percent compared to 2019, reversing two years of auto theft declines. The initial data points to a total of 873,080 auto thefts in 2020.
While state-specific 2020 data has not yet been released, Texas is among several states on NICB’s radar for vehicle theft. In 2019, Texas ranked twelfth, per capita, for vehicle thefts, and was one of only 11 states with an increase in vehicle thefts as compared to 2018. Drilling further, out of the 384 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), 17 of Texas’ 25 MSAs fall, per capita, within the top half of U.S. auto thefts; eight of Texas MSAs fall within the top one-fifth.
One organization fighting the good fight against vehicle theft is the Texas Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority (MVCPA). Originally named the Auto Theft Prevention Authority, it was created 30 years ago by the Texas Legislature and is statutorily authorized to combat vehicle theft, vehicle burglaries, fraud-related motor vehicle crimes, and stolen vehicles taken across the border into Mexico. The Authority funds 24 law enforcement taskforces throughout the state and the employment of 236 law enforcement investigators. From investigating and combatting carjacking to commercial cargo theft to vehicle title fraud, the MVCPA’s mission goes well beyond basic auto theft.
The MVCPA is funded entirely by a portion of a $4 fee annually assessed upon every Texas auto insurance policy. While the Authority’s dedicated funding source has a long history of being diverted for other purposes, in 2019 the Texas Legislature, to ensure stable and consistent funding, unanimously passed legislation committing that 20 percent of the collected fee revenue shall be appropriated to the Authority.
Regrettably, the current legislative session’s Senate and House general appropriation bills (SB 1/HB 1), based on the latest, revised figures from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, significantly fall short of funding the Authority’s statutorily imposed minimum by more than $16.5 million over the upcoming biennial.
“The MVCPA is making a big dent in Texas vehicle thefts, but their funding has always been tenuous,” shared Fred Lohmann, Director of Operations for NICB’s southwest region. “Now is the time, with auto thefts on the rise, to make good on fully funding the Authority with the fees collected for that purpose.”
NICB Government Affairs, along with other stakeholders, is busy making the case to legislators that fully funding the MVCPA to statutorily required levels is the smart investment for Texas. For more information, please contact Howard Handler, Senior Director of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-544-7083.