Car thefts rampant in King, Pierce counties to kick off 2023

Feb 8, 2023, 3:25 PM
car thefts...
A police cruiser takes part in a pursuit with other cruisers as they attempt to catch a man who stole a car and sped away. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

Car thefts continue to plague the Puget Sound area, according to new numbers from regional authorities, with officials reporting an average of 81 cars stolen per day in King and Pierce counties.

Authorities urge car owners to buy anti-theft devices like wheel locks, especially for residents living in apartment complexes as thieves heavily target apartment parking lots.

Stolen vehicle data from January showed there were 909 thefts in Pierce County and more than 1,600 in neighboring King County, but Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz acknowledged that property crime numbers don’t tell the whole story.

“People have expressed that they haven’t been reporting property crime as much because it takes the officer a long time to respond,” Diaz told MyNorthwest. “So we’re really trying to make sure we’re encouraging people to report crime, whether online, over the telephone, or by waiting for an officer. If we don’t have accurate data, we’re not really able to address those issues.”

Seattle Police 2022 crime report shows increase in murders, violent crime

Car thefts spiked nationwide during the pandemic, but a new report from the Council on Criminal Justice lists Seattle as one of the country’s hardest-hit cities — a 73% increase last year alone.

Christian Pahlas, who works in Queen Anne, had his car stolen twice in 2021 — and broken into twice since then.

“I was moving apartments at that time, so everything I owned was in the vehicle,” Pahlas told KIRO Newsradio. “And so everything I owned was stolen from it. They even took my hubcaps off, so it kind of wasn’t my car anymore at that point.”

He was never able to learn what happened in the first place, but sure enough, his car was stolen again one month later, costing him another $450 to pick it up from the impound lot.

“They told me just where it was and to go collect it myself, which was a little bit shocking because you’d think after a car’s been stolen, you don’t know who was driving that vehicle at that point,” Pahlas said.

Brian Miller, a building engineer who also works in Queen Anne, has been upset with the response from law enforcement. He resents suggestions from law enforcement to purchase security devices like wheel locks to prevent theft.

Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison: Malpractice led to increase in car theft

“You know what? We shouldn’t need to have security devices on our vehicles,” Miller said. “We should be prosecuting the people who commit the crimes. Back in the day, if someone stole somebody’s horse, what would happen to them?”

King County resident Seth Calloway is worried about car break-ins, so he pays for parking.

“There have been frequent break-ins, so it seemed to be a financially-wise decision for me because one break-in would cost me more money than it does for the year of parking,” Calloway said. “Despite the fact that month-to-month, I could probably use the money for what the parking does cost.”

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Car thefts rampant in King, Pierce counties to kick off 2023