Schumer Fingers Unusual Culprit for Crime Surge: Car Manufacturers

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) / Getty Images
March 3, 2023

Following a dramatic spike in carjackings in Buffalo, N.Y., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) blamed an unusual suspect: car manufacturers.

"Bottom line: Kia, Hyundai can't keep letting criminals on TikTok ride off into the sunset with innocent Buffalonian residents' cars," Schumer said at a Monday press conference, referencing a trend on the Chinese social media app that encourages teenagers to steal certain car models and post footage of their exploits.

More than 400 Kias and Hyundais have been stolen in Buffalo in 2023 alone, according to city police. By early February, the number of carjackings more than doubled last year's total through the same time period, WKBW reported.

The crime surge comes as Erie County district attorney John Flynn (D.) has implemented reforms that allow many criminals to walk out of jail without bail.

"For the past year now … I've been telling my assistant DAs to not ask for bail on misdemeanors and not [for] violent felonies unless there's a darn good reason," Flynn said in a December 2019 interview.

Flynn bragged about the jail population awaiting trial going down by almost 50 percent under his watch—a decline that Buffalo police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia called a "problem" for city residents.

"When gun defendants and sometimes [people] with multiple gun possession arrests walk out of custody because they either have too low bail and sometimes are released without bail, that's a problem," Gramaglia said. "That's a real problem. … We need those possessing guns behind bars."

Schumer is just the latest Democrat to punt responsibility for the crime surge in U.S. cities. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot (D.), who on Tuesday lost reelection, has blamed retailers for not having adequate security and street vendors for using cash. New York City mayor Eric Adams (D.) in October blamed the media for the "perception" of crime.

Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser (D.), meanwhile, resorted to handing out steering wheel locks to Kia owners after the Democratic city council lessened sentences for carjackers.

While Schumer told the companies to "step up and make this right," Kia USA told the city the carjackings are a "local crime problem," according to Gramaglia.

Crime is the number-one concern for New York voters, according to a recent Siena poll.