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Seattle police deploy watch tower to deter, catch mall car prowlers

(AP file photo)

The Seattle Police Department is putting some eyes in the sky to help combat car prowls this holiday season at one the city’s busiest shopping spots.

You may have noticed an addition to the parking lot outside Northgate Mall this week — a three-story tall tower with tinted windows and a big Seattle Police Department logo on the side.

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It’s a mobile patrol tower that can be staffed by a cop to get a better look at what’s going on.

“It gives that police officer a 360-degree field of view so that they can see what’s going on,” said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.

Whitcomb says the department recently pulled the tower out of storage. It had previously been at larger events like Seahawks game.

And the tower is actually part of a larger effort to deter property crime, especially during the holidays.

“At Northgate Mall, we’ve had both a uniformed presence and an undercover presence just over the past couple of weeks to address property crimes,” Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb says they haven’t made any arrests directly attributable to the tower, but they’ll analyze stats after the holidays to see if a crime at Northgate actually went down.

And he says recent efforts to combat property crime across the city with a combination of tactics including using plain clothes cops is starting to pay off. In just the past week they’ve busted a couple of car prowlers and package thieves in West Seattle as part of the local precinct’s focus on property crime.

But we play a big part in deterring would-be thieves as well. Many car break-ins and thefts are opportunity crimes – if we don’t create the opportunity, there’s a much lesser chance for the crime, Whitcomb said.

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