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Tarrant County DA joins task force to focus entirely on rising auto theft

Tarrant County DA joins task force to focus on rising auto theft

catalytic convertere
Catalytic converters may not look like much but they're a hot item. Courtesy photo

Tarrant County is cracking down on fighting auto crimes.

According to a release, Zane Reid, assistant criminal district attorney in Tarrant County, has been appointed to work with the Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force and only prosecute auto theft cases. Reid has been a prosecutor with Tarrant County since 2015.

In the past, auto theft cases were sent to the DA's office and assigned to various prosecutors. All will now go to Reid, who can spot trends or see if there are multiple cases involving the same defendant that should be grouped together.

He's the first prosecutor in Texas named to solely work with an auto crimes task force.

Bryan Sudan, commander of the Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force, says in a statement that the task force is necessary during changing times.

"We are dealing with a very, very evolving field of auto crimes now," Sudan says. "Older cars, the ones you can mechanically steal, are aging out. We  are seeing professional thieves using alternate methods to steal cars."

Sudan says they're seeing very organized groups using sophisticated methods. "We need more coordination with the prosecution of these cases," he says.

Auto crimes have evolved as technology in newer cars prompted thieves to refine how they steal them. They now use fake IDs to buy cars, steal auto parts such as catalytic converters, and reprogram fobs to steal vehicles. Theft of catalytic converters has risen dramatically.

"These cases add up to millions of dollars of loss from theft and involve multiple agencies across the metroplex," Sudan says. "Coordination with all these entities and the District Attorney’s office is the key."

In Tarrant County, the crimes have been climbing:

  • Motor vehicle thefts rose to 6,367 in 2020 from 5,895 in 2019.
  • Burglaries from motor vehicles grew to 14,288 in 2020 from 13,884 in 2019.
  • Fraud related motor vehicle crimes reached 56 in  2020, up from 52 in 2019, according to statistics from the task force.

The Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force was formed in 1993 to combat motor vehicle theft. It is made up of investigators in the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, Parker County Sheriff’s Office, National Insurance Crime Bureau and police departments in Arlington, Fort Worth, Hurst,  Haltom City and Euless.

Grant funding for this position comes from the Texas Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority, a division of  the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.