Renton police raise awareness after rash of carjackings

RENTON, Wash. — The Renton Police Department says they have seen five carjackings or attempted carjackings in five days.

In each incident, police say two armed and masked suspects demand keys, cars, and sometimes wallets from victims.

“It’s very brazen, very dangerous and it is really important that our community knows,” said Renton PD’s Communication Manager, Meeghan Black.

The first in the slew of carjackings happened on Oct. 17 at 9:20 p.m.

Police say the victim saw the suspect walking up to his car as he parallel-parked.

He saw the gun and drove off, that’s when officials say the suspect started shooting. The other four happened Oct. 20 and 21.

“There’s no rhyme or reason as far as the type of victim, the type of cars, and even the locations,” said Black.

None of the victims have been physically hurt so far. One of the stolen cars was recovered in Kent.

“They use them to commit other crimes. We do figure that the suspects are driving different vehicles and we do believe those are stolen vehicles. They swap the plates, dump the cars and take new ones,” Black explained.

Anyone with information on the carjackings is asked to call Renton police.

The Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force numbers show that in September, 1,431 cars were stolen in King County, and 705 in Pierce County.

Even if owners recover their vehicles, it could still be months before they can get them fixed and drive them again.

“Usually, you’re a couple weeks out but we’re like four months out and I talked with other people at other shops who tell me the same thing,” said Eric Berge with Werner’s Crash Shop.

“We’re scheduling the end of February or early March,” he added.

Berge said he doesn’t know what’s behind the spike of people who need cars fixed. He doesn’t ask people if their repairs are from their car being stolen or carjacked but said in his nearly 40 years of working with Werner’s he’s never seen a need like this.

“We’re at capacity now and we have customers holding onto their cars that are non-drivable, we’re bringing one in today actually that’s been waiting for about a month,” he said.

Berge added if the car is drivable but needs some body work, they’ll at least make the car street-legal to hold them over until they can get it completely fixed.