‘Go check on your car:’ Police see spike in auto thefts during stay-at-home order

SEATTLE — Officers with the Seattle Police Department say the number of reports of auto thefts is up 24 percent during the stay-at-home order.

Police said during the last 30 days they received 300 reports of auto thefts compared to 258 during the same time last year.

“We’ve been seeing a spike in auto theft,” SPD Auto Theft Unit Lt. Tom Yoon said. “With the stay home order, people aren’t driving their cars and don’t realize they’ve been stolen.”

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Many Seattle residents are working from home during the coronavirus pandemic and might go days before realizing their car has been stolen.

Police said under normal circumstances, when a person reports their car stolen, police enter the license plate into a nationwide stolen vehicle database.

Officers out on patrol, police and parking enforcement vehicles with license plate readers can check the database and are able to send out an alert if a stolen car drives past.

Police said many stolen cars in the area are recovered and returned, but only once the car is reported stolen.

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“Thieves often only drive a car for a few days before dumping the vehicle and stealing another, and chop shops are exceedingly rare in our area,” police said in a blotter post.

If someone goes days before realizing their car is gone, it creates more challenges for police to recover it.

So police are asking people to “go check on your car. If it’s not where you left it, call 911. If it’s still there, great. Be sure to check on it again soon.”