UPDATE: We just got more information from Seattle Police on our car prowl situation. There were 11 more reports in Magnolia yesterday which brings the March total of reported vehicles prowled to 40 as of today (3/27).
At our request, SPD reviewed the car prowls in Magnolia for the first 25 days of March compared to the same time frame last year. In 2009 there were 29 car prowls and in 2008 there were 11 reported.
Terrie Johnston from crime prevention explains:
Obviously the car crimes are up compared to last March, however, your numbers are still much lower than most other neighborhoods in the city. Please be aware that in the car prowls from yesterday (Thursday), the thieves rifled through many of the vehicles and took nothing, or only took quarters ($3.00 in one, and $5.00 in another). If teens are responsible, as some residents have suspected, they may be looking for I-pods and cash. What a shame that over $200 damage is done to a car, to get 12 quarters.
Please report anyone looking into parked cars, or trying door handles to 9-1-1. Stay on the line and watch where the suspicious people go. If you have any additional questions, please call me at 684-4741.
Johnston also tells us today that SPD patrol officers, burglary and theft detectives, community police team officers and the commanders of the West Precinct are all aware of this spike in property crime in Magnolia and will assign staffing levels accordingly. The majority of these crimes appear to be occurring between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
3/26 We have had a number of reports from Magnolia residents this week regarding a rash of car prowls. We checked with Terrie Johnston who works in crime prevention for the city to get a handle on the numbers.
Johnston reports that between March 1 and March 25 there were 29 car prowls in Magnolia. That means 29 cars were broken into over a 25 day period this month alone. Johnston cautions that these numbers are unofficial because not all crimes are reported. Car prowls are often under-reported because many people find the damage on the way to work and dont have time to call police. Many victims who don’t want to report the vandalism to their insurance company don’t report to the police either. The bottom line is that the number of car prowls in our area could actually be much higher.
Car prowls generally occur overnight and they take just seconds to commit. SPD says that thieves are targeting vehicles of all makes/models looking for GPS devices, cellular phones, purses, cash, laptops, I-Pods, cameras, luggage and garage remotes. Most stolen property is traded or sold on the street very quickly, lowering the chance of recovery. Thieves commonly break windows for entry, but many are also successful at defeating door and trunk locks.
Car prowls are expensive, inconvenient and aggravating for the victims. Here is what Seattle Police want you to do to protect your car:
Be consistent! Remove all valuables from your vehicle every time you park. Disable internal trunk releases per your owner’s manual. Audible alarms or other theft deterrent devices can be effective. Be observant! Report all crimes and suspicious activity to 911 immediately, even if you are not going to report the crime to your insurance company.
Johnston and patrol officers attended a large Block Watch meeting in Magnolia this week and they stress that neighbors sharing information can be a good tool to fight car prowls. You can call Terrie Johnston at 684-4741 if you want to schedule a Block Watch meeting for your neighborhood.