EAST ELMHURST — Thieves are stealing vans in order to boost motorcycles from the street and because of the valuable tools they sometimes contain, police officials said.
The thefts are contributing to a spike in stolen vehicles across Corona, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, according to the officials.
Car thefts jumped 74 percent in the 115th Precinct this year, from 31 reported incidents last year to 54 up until May 11, according to NYPD statistics.
Since then, there have been additional thefts bringing the total to 57, according to Deputy Inspector Michael Cody.
Five of the 57 stolen vehicles were Econoline vans, one of the "hottest" cars to swipe, he said.
Lt. Kengee Chong, who spoke at Tuesday's 115th Precinct Community Council meeting, said the vans are popular with thieves because they can be used for parts and also used to steal motorcycles and bikes.
Another theory is that the vans, which are popular with construction crews, are hot items for the tools they usually contain, Chong said.
Both precincts said they set up routine stops of the vans to make sure they are not stolen.
It's not clear if this is a citywide trend, although a 35-year-old man was arrested earlier this month for allegedly stealing 12 Econoline vans over a 2-month period in Jamaica, according to the commanding officer of the 103rd Precinct.
When asked for information on thefts of these vans across the city, a spokeswoman from the NYPD said they "do not break down [Grand Larceny Auto] to this level of specificity."
In order to help curb the car thefts, Cody cautioned residents to lock their cars and keep property out of sight, which "contributes to crime."