Tukwila launches new weapon in fight against area car thefts

Jul 20, 2023, 2:06 PM | Updated: 2:15 pm

Auto theft...

Car thefts are a growing problem across the country. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Tukwila Police are cracking down on car thefts with a new tool called an “automatic license plate reader,” which can tell an officer if a car has been reported stolen.

“Assistance from our Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) cameras has led to the recovery of numerous stolen vehicles, stolen firearms, narcotics, wanted persons, and more,” said Tukwila Police. “A large majority of the crimes that we’re seeing are being carried out by those arriving and fleeing in stolen vehicles.”

KIAs and Hyundais are especially vulnerable to theft.

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ALPR systems function to automatically capture an image of a vehicle and the vehicle’s license plate, transform the plate image into alphanumeric characters using optical character recognition and compare the plate number acquired to one or more databases.

The use of the tool is catching on in police departments across the state.

Recently, officers used the license plate reader on a car near Southcenter Mall, used spike strips, and six people took off from inside the car.

The suspects were eventually all arrested.

Another incident involved a man on Tukwila International Blvd. that police said had been striking vehicle windows and acting in an erratic manner.

As the officer approached the suspect, the suspect reached into his waistband. Police said he pushed his hands out in a motion similar to “punching out” with a firearm leading the officer and witnesses to believe that he was pointing a firearm at the officer.

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Other officers arrived, and a struggle ensued with the suspect in which an officer was violently struck in the face by the suspect and injured. After a lengthy struggle, the suspect was taken into custody. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation prior to being booked into jail.

ALPR cameras also located a stolen vehicle in the 15200 block of Tukwila International Blvd. While the officer was exiting his vehicle to contact the driver, the suspect rammed the officer’s car while fleeing and took off into SeaTac. The vehicle was not located, although it is now missing the front bumper.

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Tukwila launches new weapon in fight against area car thefts