Lawrence had 1,046 motor vehicle thefts in 1982. Stolen vehicles continued to soar in the city through 1990, when the city reported its all-time high of 3,534 cars stolen.
Auto thefts in Lawrence continued to drop after that. The 597 stolen vehicles reported in the city in 2004 marked the first time in at least 25 years that stolen cars fell below 1,000 per year. At the time, Romero credited the work of the auto insurance fraud task force as a major reason for the 51 percent drop in stolen cars
But auto thefts increased again when layoffs forced Romero to shut down the city’s auto insurance fraud task force several years ago. This year’s reactivation of special operations units has led to more city police involvement in stolen car investigations, but not as much as when the insurance fraud task force was active.
Now, the special operations unit is expected to fill the void created by the end of the governor’s strike force.