Facing what it calls a “significant increase” in reported auto thefts, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division on Thursday asked for the public’s help in reducing the number of cars stolen.
Many of these crimes, the office said, are preventable.
The sheriff’s office had 581 vehicles reported stolen in 2020. In 2021, that number shot up to 801, an increase of 38 percent, according to a press release. Those numbers do not include car thefts reported to city police departments.
“To illustrate how prevalent this crime has become, we tracked auto theft over a 19-day period in one single area of the county, the Orchards area. From Jan. 1 to Jan. 19, there were 23 vehicles stolen from the Orchards area alone,” the office said in the release.
The sheriff’s office said of the 23 vehicles stolen, five had been left running or warming up in driveways or parking lots.
The sheriff’s office also noted during a recent 30-minute period during the morning rush hour, deputies found 19 vehicles running unattended in the Sifton and Orchards neighborhoods. Deputies spoke with some of the car owners to help educate them on the dangers of leaving a running vehicle unattended.
“It is important for the public to know in most cases, our deputies are not authorized to pursue occupied stolen vehicles or use intervention techniques to recover occupied stolen vehicles. Therefore, most stolen vehicles are not recovered unless they are abandoned by the suspect,” the sheriff’s office said. “In many cases, these stolen vehicles are kept for extended periods of times by criminals and then used to commit further crimes.”
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to be more vigilant about their vehicles by not leaving them running or warming up unattended. Also be sure to set car alarms, do not leave keys in vehicles, block vehicles in at night and keep them in a garage if possible.
“Please be aware that criminals are often roaming both on foot and in vehicles during the morning hours, specifically looking for targets of opportunity. Don’t be an easy target for a criminal; keep your vehicle locked and warm it up under your supervision,” the sheriff’s office said.
Anyone with information about the location of a stolen vehicle or suspects involved is asked to contact the Clark County Sheriff’s Office or call 311 to make a report.
To report suspected criminal activity, call the tip line at 564-397-2847 or visit the website at clark.wa.gov/sheriff/report-crime.