‘We’ve recovered thousands’: Notorious online community combats car theft

Car thefts have grown rampant throughout Western Washington in recent years.

In Washington, an average of more than 100 cars are stolen daily. The majority of those thefts happen in Pierce and King County.

But despite that discouraging statistic, there’s an online group of people who are restoring some faith in humanity. The group has become notorious for helping strangers and solving crimes.

The group is called ‘PNW Stolen Cars.’ It’s a Facebook page where people report vehicle thefts and then the community rallies to find the vehicles. It’s made of more than 100,000 total strangers. They share posts of stolen cars, connect victims to resources, and even drive around searching for other people’s cars. And their group effort works.

“We’ve recovered thousands and thousands of vehicles just based off of owners posting on the page, and us being able to locate them,” says Ian Coates, who helps moderate the page. “By people just seeing something and saying something.”