How Law Enforcement (LE) personnel and Prosecuting Attorney's (PA's) Are Helping Our Communities


Auto theft crime doesn't just happen in WA State. It is a national and international problem. Many victims of auto theft have their lives severly impacted. It is awful enough that their sense of security has been violated, personal infomation compromised, valuables taken, but at times the car itself was the only means of transportation. Stolen cars are often used to commit other crimes. This issue is not going to stop on it's own - so WATPA is proud to support the efforts of LE and PA agencies statewide.


Have you been a victim of auto theft? How did it impact your life? What did you learn from that experience? Do you have any advice for others? If you would like to share your story please visit our Contact Us section and let us know.  

As the primary Auto Theft investigator at the Renton Police Department, I’ve had the opportunity to get a look at criminal behavior that most private citizens don’t. This summer, I interviewed a burglar and auto thief whose drug dependency pulled him into a life where “getting by” meant a constant round of stealing from people like you and I. The interview gave me a fascinating look at just how much thought a “common criminal” put into his craft.

This suspect’s primary source of income was stealing and using cash and credit cards stolen from others. Getting around to commit thefts and use the stolen cards often meant stealing a car, and this is the way he told me that he procured cars, cash, and cards:

My suspect would roam neighborhoods in the early morning hours, trying door handles on cars. When he found an unlocked car, he’d look for a garage door opener as well as any items of value. If he found a garage door opener, he’d hide out of sight, and open the garage door. Then he’d wait a few minutes to see if it looked like the resident had woken up. If there was no sign of activity (lights going on, sounds of movement inside the house, doors opening, etc.), he’d sneak into the garage.

A lot of times, cars inside the garage would have a key inside; and many people did not lock the door from the garage into their homes. My suspect told me that when he found an unlocked door to the house, it was almost a sure bet that there’d be keys or a purse left just inside the door, on a counter or out on a table nearby. He’d grab the purse, use any car keys that he found to steal a car, and off he went. He’d drive the stolen car for a week or however long it took him to luck into another one. Every day or two, he’d steal and switch license plates to disguise the car. He’d work with associates to use credit cards for cash advances or merchandise purchases to be returned for cash. Over a seven month period, he stole at least half a dozen cars this way. He was involved in multiple pursuits, and victimized dozens of people.

This suspect was unusually frank about what he did, but his behavior was by no means unusual. Every day, dozens of criminals in Renton engage in the same kind of activities; we arrested one this weekend who was doing exactly what my interviewed suspect had done. Never make the mistake of thinking that just because you or I would never be so bold as to sneak into a stranger’s home knowing that it was occupied, that a desperate drug user would not. Basing your precautionary measures on the social codes that most of us live by will not protect you from the small segment of the population that does not honor those codes.

The lessons:
-Never leave your vehicles unlocked
-Never leave keys or key fobs inside any of your vehicles
-Lock your doors (and remember that if someone can get your garage door opener, they’ve got access to anything in the garage).
-Never leave purses and keys where they can be quickly accessed

Stay safe!

Crash Involving Stolen City Backhoe Kills Woman


DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas police need help as a family grieves the loss of a young woman killed in a strange hit-and-run accident involving a city-owned backhoe.

Investigators said the backhoe, owned by the city’s Water Department, was at the intersection of Walnut Hill Lane and Shady Trail when a man stole it around 5:00 a.m.

Steamers, slim jims, and plain old hot-wiring: Revamped task force targets car thieves


In the world of cop jargon, a “steamer” is a running car left to warm up while the driver waits indoors.

Steamers offer tempting targets to would-be car thieves, which leads to more advanced jargon: a “steamer sting,” meaning a police trap using steamers as bait.

                        click here for entire story

KENT, Wash. -- By this time last year, there had been around 750 reported car thefts. This year, almost 1,200. That’s a 50 percent increase.

Kent police say part of the reason can be blamed on the growing opioid epidemic.

Kent PD
Steering Wheel Giveaway
City Watch - Kamloops, BC
City Watch is a CUPE BC program initiated by CUPE locals. Working with municipal councils and the police, they help stamp out crime in their communities. City Watch is designed to prevent and reduce crime by encouraging municipal workers to be alert to activities they might witness in the course of doing their jobs.
Workers throughout the city are in a unique position to provide an added, invaluable public service. This is particularly true during the day when many residents are away from home. By simply using their eyes and ears and adopting a sense of observation and concern, they can keep a watchful eye on the community while doing their work.

HOUSTON – Police say charges have been filed against two suspects believed to be responsible for the theft and illegal export of more than 100 vehicles.

King & Pierce County Auto Theft Task Force radio PSA
PSA - King & Pierce TF's
Auto Theft is on 
the rise in the
Area Chiefs and Sheriffs share important tips.

Advice from a Convicted Criminal on How to Keep Your Car Safe in Seattle

Some language contained in the article may be offensive. To access the article in The Stranger click here

A degree takes years. Vehicle theft takes seconds.

Lock your car doors. Take your keys with you. It's a common refrain from law enforcement, but as police continue to work to reduce and prevent car thefts, it's their most important message to drivers.

Snohomish County SO, Kirkland PD & the WSP

You Hold The Key: Together the Snohomish County SO, Kirkland PD & the WSP came together to create a Public Service Announcement about how to avoid being a victim of auto theft.
Produced, Shot, and Edited by Seattle Videographer Tim Griffis of Northwest Video Edge

The Oregonian:
       Stolen car ring

Victims speak out as illegal tow truck driver is sentenced to 2 years in prison. A bumper sticker that read"United We Stand'' was the only distinguishing mark left on a stolen 1991 Ford van that Sonny Plew towed to West Coast Car Crushing in North Portland on Oct. 15, 2013.

Click here to read the story and watch the videos of victims whose lives were impacted by auto theft.

Our friends at the Pennsylvania Auto Theft Prevention Authority have just released this informative auto theft prevention You Tube video. How to Prevent Auto Theft: Click here to watch surveillance video and hear from investigators.
For many victims having their car stolen is only the beginning of their problem.

"Hardened Target: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Car Theft," is a grant fulfillment multimedia production for the Washington State Auto-Theft Prevention Authority that was produced Winter of 2009 at Central Washington University.

The video was produced by the COM 440 (Corporate Media Production) student production team supervised by professor Steve Jackson. Their was also a website and powerpoint that goes along with the video that was produced and will be up later next week on the CWU Police homepage.