Car thefts up during pandemic

VIDEO: Law enforcement cracking down on car thefts

SEATTLE — Car thefts are surging as criminals take advantage of the "stay home" order.

But one city says it's also helping them catch more crooks.

Many people are leaving their cars parked for days on end.

Content Continues Below

In Seattle, for example, car thefts are up nearly 30% compared to this time last year.

Maybe it's because so many people are obeying the Governor's order that car thieves are going about their dirty work.

In some cases, they are stealing the vehicles of people working from home who don't notice they are missing for several days.

Perhaps it is proof that neither rain, nor snow, nor a pandemic will deter a thief determined to steal your car.

"As far as what we can tell that our task force is focused on and a couple of other task forces in the state are focused on, they're still out stealing cars," said Det. Sgt. Jeff Maijala of the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force.

Suspects like a man wanted for allegedly stealing a Ford truck out of a Subway parking lot near 160th and Meridian in Puyallup on April 8th.

And statistics from the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task force show the pandemic has not slowed the crooks down.

Vehicle thefts in King and Pierce Counties are pretty much where they always are the first three months of the year.

"You would expect that with people staying at home, maybe these auto thieves, auto theft numbers would come down," said Maijala. "But they're not changing at all. They're staying right on the status quo."

But vehicle thefts are on the rise in the city of Seattle.

More than 1,100 vehicles have been stolen so far this year. Compare that with the just 877 vehicles stolen a year ago, a 27% increase.

But there have been busts. King County sheriff's deputies arrested a man on West Marginal Way South last week in a stolen Ford Econoline.

In an email, Kent police said the Governor’s order keeping people home has actually helped them catch more thieves because, for the most part, like in much of Seattle, the streets are empty.