Secondary Navigation

Transcript: Mayor Adams Makes Public Safety Announcement

April 30, 2023

Watch the video here at

Mayor Adams: Good morning, or good afternoon. How's everyone? Good, Eric. [Laughter.] When we do an analysis of crime, it's an amazing job with Chief Maddrey and his team, Chief Chell have done over the year. And each month when they do a briefing, I notice that what jumps off at us, and that is the ever presence of GLAs. And as we stated before, that many of these GLAs is being fed by many directions. We always say there are many rivers that feed the violence and the crime that we see in our city and this holds true also for grand larceny autos. Last month we talked about the role that TikTok is playing in grand larceny autos. This month we are looking at how the same problem we're seeing in certain cars, Kia, Hyundai and Honda, particularly Kia and Hyundai is leading the way.

And right here in this precinct, this precinct reached a number of 200 GLAs. There's no other precinct in the city that has numbers like that and it's not because of the work that the men and women here have been coordinated to target and zero in on the problem of grand larceny autos. We have seen a decrease in many of the other seven major crimes, decrease in shootings, decrease in homicides, decrease in robberies, larcenies, but the aggravating number of grand larceny auto continues to drive up our crime in the city and it gives the false sense that we are now moving in the right directions when we are. And so we're calling on New Yorkers to participate. Your greatest investment is your automobile. It's used for many different reasons to get to and from your place of employment, to drop your children off every day, to deal with any medical procedures you may have.

Using public transportation is not always the alternative for so many people. This is a partnership we can do together. I like to say a three-way partnership. Number one, by empowering everyday New Yorkers with a simple device as an AirTag. Using technology, you hear me say it over and over again, using technology to fight crime, protect people, save property is a direction this administration and this Police Department is going in. This simple device, this simple AirTag, hidden in a car at a location that a person is not aware of is an excellent tracking device. It's easy to monitor. The New York City Police Department is going to be putting out a video to explain the use of it. It's very simple. The charging life lasts a long time and you can see in real time where that vehicle is located.

We wanted to have a partner, the second arm of the partnership is the Police Department. Soon as we are notified about a grand larceny auto, and even if it's days later, we can still track the car and find the person who's driving and put a break on what we are experiencing in the city with grand larceny autos. And the third arm of it is what we have really coined in this administration and that's our relationship with the business community. When I reached out to the Association for a Better New York and shared the possibilities of doing this, the response was immediate, and they were willing to come in and pick up the cost of 500 of these AirTags.

These AirTags could be used, we are going to be handing them out in this precinct, which is really spiking in grand larceny autos, and we are going to be partnering with other entities in the city to also bring about this type of donation from not only our corporate partners, but those who would like to play a role in dealing with the grand larceny autos we're seeing in the city. So my friend Mr. Rubenstein, thank you so much for your contribution, the chairman of the Association of Better New York. During the ‘70’s, this was an association that helped us bail out our economic challenges and once again during 2023, they're here again. So representing Association for a Better New York, it's my good friend Mr. Rubenstein. Thank you. 

Steven Rubenstein, Chairman, Association for a Better New York: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I'm Steven Rubenstein, I'm the chair of ABNY. I want to say, mayor, how grateful we are for your passion and specifically today for your tireless work to protect New Yorkers. Look, many of us remember when auto theft was an epidemic on our city streets, when we were worried every single time we parked our cars, we knew we could leave nothing in them and that included car radios, right? There was a joke that went around back then that BMW stood for break my window, but the crimes weren't a joke and you didn't have to own a luxury car like a BMW to be a victim. These crimes stole things of real value and they undermined our overall sense of safety and security, something that's true even if you didn't own a car.

Today, we're nowhere near close to the battle days of our highest crime numbers. But smart leaders don't wait for things to spiral and we appreciate the mayor and the NYPD, we're going to cut off this rising trend. ABNY CEO, Melva Miller, and I were happy to step up when the mayor called and asked for assistance to do our small part on this issue. So we're donating 500 AirTags to help the PD recover stolen cars as well as hopefully increase deterrence. The thing we really appreciate about this mayor is you're trying something new, we're seeking a new approach. It's a bit of technology, it's a simple idea, but it's an innovative one and we really believe in trying things to see how they work.

As the mayor mentioned, ABNY was founded 50 years ago, we've done things big and small. We've had our members advance to pay their taxes to keep the city solvent, we've even given out brooms, we've donated lifesaving vests to the PD and we've run a campaign — a massive campaign — to help the census. So we do far and wide, today's thing is a little more technological, but we really wanted to say we're committed to helping. We're grateful that you asked. I want to say thank you. And next I want to give the microphone to Chief of Patrol, John Shell, and I want to thank the chief for all he does.

John Chell, Chief of Patrol, Police Department: Thank you, sir. Thank you. All right. Good afternoon. It's good to be here with our mayor, our chief of department, Steven Rubenstein, thank you for all coming. As we say time and time again, public safety is a responsibility shared by all New Yorkers. We want to thank the Association for a Better New York for this vital role they've been playing in helping us reduce our grand larceny auto. The GPS devices donated by ABNY will be giving New Yorkers another layer of protection for their vehicles by first locating and tracking stolen cars, then by acting as the deterrent for auto thieves. It also allows our officers to be more strategic while mitigating pursuits, keeping us safe and keeping the community safe. This technology is not new, like Steve mentioned, but when you use it in innovative ways, it becomes a new means to increase public safety and further improve our quality of life.

When our city faces an issue like car theft, in this case the proliferation of auto theft, we find or create a strategic way to correct the issue, like new technology the mayor rolls out, StarChase and now AirTags redeployed in an innovative way. And couple with that, there's regular crime prevention tips we should all follow when it comes to autos. Don't leave our keys in our car, don't leave our key fob in the car where the bad guys know when your mirrors open and close, don't leave valuables in a car that are attractive to the bad guy. Those are regular crime prevention tips. Like the mayor said, on our social media page, now you'll be able to see how to use these AirTags in an effective way. And last, I'll work with the ABNY, the mayor's public safety team on this, is an example of our approach to one city, one mission. Thank you very much. I guess we're open for questions.


Question: For those of us who have not used AirTags before, can someone explain how they work, how often they need to be charged, et cetera?

Mayor Adams: Where's my tech geek?

Chief Chell: All right, so I'll be the tech geek. So you download the app to your phone, you deploy this AirTag the way you want to deploy it in your car, wherever you feel comfortable with, and when the AirTag starts moving vis-a-vis your vehicle, your phone will be alerted, you know someone's in your car who's not supposed to and/or stolen, you call 911 as fast as you can, you tell the officers involved, "I have an AirTag," and they'll immediately, with our citywide apprehension apparatus, will start putting that tag citywide. And hopefully we recover your car undamaged, we take the bad guy off the street, and you get your car back to conduct your business and doesn't impose on your life.

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry, Kate. What I did was I gave one of the devices to our guys so they can move the car so you can actually visually see. It's a really amazing piece of ingenuity. You get alerted. If you're home and all of a sudden you get alerted that your car is moving, you can see exactly how the car is moving. And it's a very simple device, you can hide it anywhere in your car, not where someone would realize it's there, and you can actually track your car moving. You can use this device so many times. I used to tell my son, "Make sure you come straight home after school." And I find he goes to another borough, now I could track him.

Question: Now I own a 2020 Kia Forte, and I'm in the 49th precinct, which I've seen the rash of cars stolen. Can I get one of those AirTags for my car?

Mayor Adams: Hold on. Because that's very important. Kia, Hyundai and Honda, those are driving our numbers. We did a lawsuit on Kia and Hyundai because they should do a better job, but they are driving our numbers. So GLA is driving our crime, Kia and Hyundai are driving the GLAs. We're pinpointing, right? So you are one less GLA we're worrying about, okay?

Chief Chell: And just for the numbers, this year alone, we have 966 Hyundais and Kias taken. It's plus 819 from last year. And therein lies the difference with some of our crime increase as relates to stolen cars.

Question: We received some information that there were 200 GLAs in this precinct, and I just wondered if you guys could clarify what timeframe that took place over?

Chief Chell: So over the past year to date, we have taken 207 recorded GLAs, grand larceny autos. This is year to date that we have taken 207 grand larceny autos. And so far this week we've taken another 9.

Mayor Adams: So that's the year to day, January to present.

Moderator: Any other on-topics?

Question: So why is it Kia and Honda cars that face a greater risk?

Chief Chell: So there's a manufacturer's defect in both those orders where it's a plastic cylinder that covers a car. You can remove that plastic cylinder with a hardware screwdriver and a USB port that will use your iPhone will start that car right away. So that's the issue. And the TikTok challenge that came out in July of 22, definitely without a doubt, driving that issue when it comes to some of our youth taking these cars.

Mayor Adams: So if you go into TikTok, they actually show in this challenge of stealing the car, they actually show how to use the everyday cord you charge your phone, how to jumpstart the car. And so when you look at July 22, you are seeing the spike that we are experiencing now because of what is happening, or a large part of what's happening on social media. I think you had a question in the back.

Question: Yes. With these AirTags, will police have the ability to always track these tags? Or is it something that just the user can track on their phone?

Jeffrey Maddrey, Chief of Department, Police Department: We will not have the ability to track any AirTag that we give away. What happens is once the owner realizes that their car is missing, for whatever reason, they call us and we'll look at their phone and we'll use their phone to track the vehicle.

Question: Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Right. So we're going to be clear on that. This is not a centralized tracking system where we are in charge of tracking someone's car. If an owner gets a notification that their car is moving without their authorization, they will notify the police department who would automatically use that information, with the owner's permission, to track the stolen vehicle. So we want to give an example. I know they're downloading the app now. Just give us a couple of minutes.

Here's an example. You put one in one of our cars and it's showing where the car is. So if this car was a stolen car, we would've received a notification that the car is moving, and it's actually showing you in real time where the car is located.

So police officers are able to go there with the owner's permission and apprehend this person who has stolen this car. These GLAs are not only GLAs, they are involved in robberies, they're involved in criminal possession of firearms, they're involved in hit and runs. So when you are seeing these large number of robberies, the patterns are coming back to stolen cars over and over again as well as when you see the increased number of hit and runs. This is why we're zooming in on GLAs. They're a feeder to many other crimes. You got it?

Question: No, it's black now.

Mayor Adams: Oh, okay.

Question: Is that the Find My app?

Mayor Adams: No, no, this is not the Find My app.

Question: Does it have its own app?

Chief Chell:  It's Find my iPhone app. 

Question: Does it work on Android phones as well?

Mayor Adams: I don't even have one.

Chief Chell: Device only works on iPhone.

Mayor Adams: Yeah. Yeah. So Android's got to invent one. Okay. Thanks so much.


Media Contact
(212) 788-2958