Instagram Page Helping Locals Recover Vehicles in Response to Current Theft Wave

Stolen car with broken window

According to the City of New Orleans’ crime dashboard, in 2022, New Orleans saw the highest number of vehicle thefts in a decade. In addition, there were 618 vehicle thefts in the first nineteen days of 2023, averaging about 33 thefts per day. Although The Metropolitan Crime Commission reports that the number of stolen vehicles in 2023 is 461, it’s plain to see that the city is dealing with a significant problem regarding vehicle thefts.

When one citizen’s car was stolen, they took action to make sure that others affected by recent car thefts would have a way to connect and possibly recover their stolen vehicle. This person, who prefers to remain anonymous, created stolenautosnola, an Instagram page in which they do what they can to connect citizens with their stolen cars.

“My vehicle was stolen and it had been a week and I hadn’t heard anything from NOPD,” they explained. “Randomly, someone on Reddit said something about sending the information about the car to Empower You NOLA, so that they could post about it. I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to do that too.’”

Empower You NOLA posted the vehicle and, within hours, received tips on where it was. Just like that, the founder of Stolen Autos NOLA recovered their vehicle, and an arrest was made.

“From there I realized that social media was a useful tool and other people could probably find their vehicles this way,” they explained. “I knew it was something I could do as a private citizen- posting pictures and sharing information. So, I see it as a ‘pay it forward’ sort of thing.”

People see stolen cars listed on the page and spot them randomly abandoned in the city. 

“A lot of times I’ll post a car as stolen and someone will spot it as abandoned,” they said when explaining the process. “I’ll run the plate, because I keep an Excel database, and if I find the car in the database, I’m able to inform the owner where their car is and let them handle it with the police from there.”

To share information about a stolen or found car, message Stolen Autos NOLA with your car’s year, make, model, color, plate, VIN #, distinguishing features, when and where it was stolen/found, any previous tips and leads, and a photo of the vehicle. 

The page’s founder is posting cars in addition to working their regular job, so they ask you to be patient when waiting for your vehicle information to be posted.

So far, Stolen Vehicles NOLA has recovered 40 vehicles in a little over a month since the account was created. 

Regarding why some cars are more likely to be stolen than others, the founder of Stolen Autos NOLA notes that some cars are easier to get into, and there are issues with some key fobs. 

They said, “The range on some of the key fobs extends longer than it should and it can sometimes be replicated.”

The founder suggests investing in a Faraday box, a small box in which you can store your key fob at home that will protect it from being compromised. The boxes can be found on Amazon.

The founder of Stolen Autos NOLA is happy that the page has been such a valuable tool for the community during a difficult time and hopes to continue to reunite citizens with their stolen vehicles.

They said, “Every success is awesome because it’s a community effort. I appreciate people trusting me with their tips.”

You can donate to Stolen Autos NOLA via Venmo @stolenautosnola.

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