Washington ranks third in the nation for car thefts last year

Washington ranks third in the nation for the number of vehicles stolen last year, according to a report released last week.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s 2022 Vehicle Theft Trend Report said 46,939 vehicles were stolen in the state in 2022, out of a total of 1,001,967 nationwide.

Washington’s number of auto thefts last year only trail behind California and Texas, which have significantly larger populations, with 202,685 and 105,015 vehicles stolen last year, respectively.

>>Alarming number of cars stolen in Renton after Kia TikTok challenge

Data shows that from 2019 to 2022, the vehicle theft rate in Washington increased by a whopping 31%. Only Illinois had a larger increase during that time period: 35%.

Looking at metropolitan areas across the U.S., the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area ranked 7th, with 30,572 vehicles stolen last year — a 30% increase compared to 2021.

The only other metropolitan area that saw a bigger increase — 40% — was the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin area.

Meanwhile, February statistics for King and Pierce counties show auto thefts aren’t slowing down.

According to the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force, 748 vehicles were stolen in Pierce County and 1,351 in King County last month, an average of about 75 a day.

The task force recommends that all vehicle owners use anti-theft devices, especially those who live in apartment complexes, which thieves have been targeting.

“Steering wheel locks are strongly recommended for owners of Hyundai and Kia models that are vulnerable to theft. For a list of police departments distributing free locks, please visit our blog,” the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force said on its Facebook page.

To reduce the chance of having your vehicle stolen, the task force recommends:

  • Remove or hide all valuables
  • Lock your car
  • Don’t leave keys or fobs inside
  • Don’t leave your vehicle running unattended (exhaust in cold months makes these vehicles easy to spot)
  • Use anti-theft devices (alarm, kill switch, steering wheel lock)
  • Park in well-lit areas