Category Archives: Car Theft

Car theft: We’re No. 8

And that’s not No. 8 in a good way. The Bremerton-Silverdale area ranks in that spot for most car thefts among areas in the state.

But that’s much lower than the state’s No. 1 spot for car theft — Spokane — an area ranked fourth in the nation overall for the crime.

Here’s the release from the NW Insurance Council. Be sure to note the tips below to help you safeguard your own vehicle.

Washington continues to be a hotbed for auto thieves with a 9.8 percent jump in auto thefts last year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual Hot Spots Report released today.

Spokane ranked fourth-highest in the nation for auto theft rates, up from 18th in 2009.  The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area jumped to 13th from 37th and leads the state with more than 55 percent of all auto thefts, increasing 18.8 percent since 2009.  Yakima remains in the top ten, falling from sixth in 2009 to tenth last year.

In 2010, 29,298 vehicles were reported stolen in Washington, a 9.8 percent increase from 26,684 in 2009.  That’s an average of 80 stolen vehicles per day and more than three vehicles per hour.

Auto theft is a costly crime that vehicle owners pay for through their insurance premiums.  In 2009, auto theft cost more than $170 million in Washington.

“Consumers in America pay billions each year for auto theft,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “The cost to replace stolen vehicles and repair those that are recovered is reflected in your insurance rates. That makes stopping auto theft important to all of us.”

Vehicle theft is the nation’s number-one property crime, costing an estimated $5.2 billion in 2009, according to the FBI.  The average value of a motor vehicle reported stolen in 2009 was $6,505.

Here are the Washington cities with the highest theft rates:

1.     Spokane                                  2,763                           586.35
2.     Yakima                                   1,266                           520.49
3.     Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue       16,192                         470.72
4.     Portland-Vancouver-Hillsb.   6,860                           308.17
5.     Longview                                293                              286.10
6.     Olympia                                  468                              185.52
7.     Mount Vernon-Anacortes      202                              172.80
8.     Bremerton-Silverdale             396                              157.69
9.     Kennewick-Pasco-Richland   392                              154.73
10.  Wenatchee-E. Wenatchee      153                              137.98
*The theft rate is based on the number of thefts per 100,000 inhabitants using 2009 U.S. Census data.

Here are Washington’s most stolen vehicles, according to NICB statistics:
1.     1992 Honda Accord
2.     1995 Honda Civic
3.     1990 Toyota Camry
4.     1995 Acura Integra
5.     1993 Subaru Legacy
6.     1994 Nissan Sentra
7.     1993 Dodge Caravan
8.     1994 Saturn SL
9.     1994 Ford Explorer
10.  1995 Nissan Pathfinder

NW Insurance Council offers the following tips to help you reduce the risk of your vehicle being stolen:

Keep your doors locked and windows completely rolled up.

Remove keys from the ignition, even when briefly stepping away from your car.

Keep valuable items such as bags, purses, cell phones and briefcases out of sight.

Always park your vehicle in well-lit areas.

Always activate your vehicle’s security or alarm system when parked.

Before buying a new vehicle, check with your insurance company to find out which vehicles have the highest risk of theft.

If you witness or have knowledge of an auto theft, contact your local law enforcement agency.  In some cases, auto theft is a form of insurance fraud when automobile owners arrange to have their vehicles stolen with hopes of collecting the insurance money.

If you know of anyone who has filed a false insurance claim, you may be eligible for a fraud award up to $5,000 offered by NW Insurance Council.  Call the Fraud Hotline at 800-TEL-NICB.  For more information about the Hot Spots Report  and insurance fraud, call (800) 664-4942 or visit NW Insurance Council.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Enough Already! What to Do About Break-Ins at Silverdale Parking Lot

Julie Sayers lost her purse, credit cards and personal information to car prowlers recently. They smashed out her car’s window while she was parked at the Silverdale Rotary Gateway Park — a place all too common for such break-ins.

Yet for all the agony she went through dealing with the theft, she was more angry with what happened next.

She found that the culprits “tested” one of her credit cards by making a $1 transaction at a nearby gas station. Then, they went inside a grocer — also nearby — to spend serious money on her card.

It makes Sayers wonder why no one thinks it suspicious to buy $1 in gas. But that’s beside the point to her, which is this: the thieves are clearly not trying all that hard in victimizing car owners at the Gateway park’s lot. Broken glass on the ground there is a common sight, she points out.

“I think it is time for Silverdale citizens to take back their lot and Clear Creek Trail and not let these brazen crooks get away with this,” she wrote me in an email.

She wonders if surveillance cameras are the answer. In the mean time, a new dog park’s going in near the lot, one that will remove a berm that should make it more visible from the road.

Her own story does have a little happy ending to it: a good Samaritan found her purse and its contents while Geocaching near the Kitsap Mall.

How to Keep Your Car Safe (and What to do if you Don’t)


They’re taking cars. Going on short rides. Stealing your stuff from them. And then dumping the evidence.

Thieves have taken 30 cars in as many days in the East Bremerton area, prompting a Kitsap County Sheriff’s detectives’ investigation. But while the investigators dig into the case, chances are more cars will be taken.

Courtesy of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, here’s some useful tips to safeguard yourself from car theft, as well as what to do if you become a victim of such a crime. But first a few links: hear the story of two victims of car theft here and here, and see the list of the most stolen cars in the nation here.

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A ‘Brazen Daylight’ Burglary and their Pearl-white Ranchero is Gone


The Moyers live in “a nice, quiet, supposedly safe neighborhood,” along West Belfair Valley Road. But on Sunday, they had what husband John called “a huge eye opener.” They came home to find their 1964 pearl-white Ford Ranchero gone, in a “brazen daylight” theft, he said.

“The fact that someone in my family could have been killed or harmed by these criminals had we gotten back 10 minutes earlier, is a huge eye opener,” Moyer said.

They haven’t given up hope that their car will be found, and law enforcement has had some bites. “There have been a few sightings of the Ranchero, but by the time police arrive, it’s gone,” he said.

The Ranchero’s license plate number is B68910F, though that may have been chagned. It’s a 6 cylinder, 3 speed, and has some discoloration on rear driver side near back bumper. Anyone with information is urged to phone 911.

“Any help you can give in getting the word out, not to mention warning your readers that there’s dangerous daylight burglars out here, would be appreciated,” he said.

The Top Ten Cars Most Popular with Thieves


The good news: Car theft in Washington has declined 25 percent since last year. The bad news: it’s still up 21 percent since 1995.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s annual “Hot Spots Report,” showed about 32,000 Washington cars were stolen in 2008, down from 42,000 in 2007. Still, the bureau calls the state “a hotbed” for car theft: in the nation — Yakima ranked third, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area 26th and Spokane 35th in auto theft rates around the country.

The bureau points that an average of 87 stolen vehicles per day in the state. That’s nearly four vehicles an hour.

And just what are they stealing? Here’s a list of the most popular cars, trucks and SUVs stolen:

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Silverdale Car Prowls: A GPS Device Stolen, then Found


In the wake of a surge in Silverdale area car prowls, John Hunter’s GPS device went missing. His family, who recently moved from North Carolina, had heard of an increase in crime in the area.

A neighbor had an SUV stolen right out of their driveway; the son of a nearby teacher they know also had a car taken and completely stripped of all its valuable parts.

Then last November, the crime came to them. “We notified the police the next day and filed a report,” he said of the stolen GPS device.

Hunter, whose family runs a small family business, is not alone in being victimized. Car prowls in Silverdale have jumped from 40 in 2006 to 224 in 2008. But he did something everyone should do: he took action to safeguard his home.

“We were quite upset about this theft and have since placed motion sensor lighting out front,” he wrote me. “Nightly we keep all doors locked including both cars.”

His story — unlike many crime victims — also has a happy ending.

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Bait Cars ‘Reel’ in Crooks

A story in the Washington Post today chronicled law enforcement’s sometimes-use of “bait cars” to catch car thieves in Washington D.C.

If you remember back in May, we did a series of stories on car theft, including the Washington State Patrol’s use of bait cars to catch crooks in the act. A tough crime to prove, “bait cars” provide fairly indisputable evidence of a theft.

Check out the Post’s story here.

Another One Bites the Dust

(Blogger’s Note: This entry is hopefully to be a reoccurring feature on the Criminal Justice Forum, highlighting the car theft-fighting abilities of Bremerton Police Officer Dave Hughes, known throughout the county as one of the best in Kitsap law enforcement at finding stolen cars.

However, I am open to posting all types of crimefighting expertise. Please don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail or write an entry of other accomplishments that can be posted too.)

Dave Hughes, a Bremerton officer who we’ve written about on several occasions – lately for his uncanny knack for finding stolen vehicles – found another Monday night.

While patroling the 100 block of Lafayette in Bremerton at about 11:30 p.m., he remembered seeing a 1976 blue Ford pickup on the “hot sheet” – local law enforcement’s list of the county’s “stolens” – back in April.

Sure enough, it came back stolen and the owners were notified. Add another notch to Hughes’ already lengthy list.

Car Theft: ‘West is Best’

While I was working on Sunday’s series of stories pertaining to car theft in Kitsap County, I phoned Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which works with both law enforcement and insurance companies to help thwart thieves.

Frank informed me that the “west is best” for car theft, and that while auto theft is down nationally, the 11 western states — particularly California — were up for thefts.

He also told me that his agency was on the verge of releasing new data on the “hot spots” of where thieves strike most.

Their new research was released this week. Two of the top 10 spots are here — No. 6, consisting of Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue, and No. 10, Yakima — helping to elevate Washington to its status as No. 4 in the nation overall for car thefts reported.

The top 10 “hot spots” as reported by the NICB were:

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Car Theft: A Changing Crime

Some of you may have caught this Kitsap Sun Code 911 story on the Web Wednesday:

A would-be thief who allegedly tried to make off with a car Tuesday got less than an hour with his stolen ride, according to the Bremerton Police Department.

Officers heard reports that the vehicle, a 2003 Acura RSX, was stolen from Erlands Point Road at around 3 a.m. One officer saw a similar vehicle drive by soon after, near the intersection of 13th Street and Kitsap Way.

The officer followed the car as it accelerated to speeds he guessed were about 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. The car also failed stop at two stop signs, reports said. At around 3:30 a.m., the officer saw a man matching the alleged car thief’s description crossing Naval Avenue at Fifth Street, and also noticed he wasn’t wearing a coat — in 35 degree weather — and appeared nervous. The officer asked him if he’d seen an Acura-like car drive by, and the man quipped, “Why, was it stolen?” according to reports.

The car was located soon after by another officer at the 300 block of Naval Avenue and the man, a 24-year-old Bremerton resident, was taken to jail by Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies.

This Code story is a successful — and quick — ending to a car theft. However, many more aren’t so lucky.

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