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Washington state: A hot spot for auto thieves

SEATTLE — Eighty-four cars were stolen each day in Washington last year — that’s more than three vehicles every hour.

cartheft“Movies make it look pretty quick; I would say 5 minutes they can get in,” said driver Ali Hartwick.

“They can steal your $10,000 car with $50 worth of stuff,” said Arrows Automotive mechanic Travis Austin.

Austin demonstrated how quickly a car thief can break into your car.  On Wednesday, it took Austin only 48 seconds to break into a 1998 Honda Accord.

Once inside, Austin says an experienced thief can bypass the ignition and hot-wire a car in less than 20 seconds.

“Oh my gosh, wow,” said Hartwick.

The Washington State Patrol and car experts both say most of the stolen vehicles are older and smaller.

Toyota, Lexus, Infiniti, Nissan, older Mercedes and older BMWs are some of the popular targets for thieves.

“They are so much easier to get into; there are way less electronic, they don’t have chips in the keys,” said Austin.

Washington is only second to California when it comes to the largest number of auto thefts, according to data from last year. The state saw nearly a 6% spike, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“That is huge,” said driver Steve Bennett.

Bennett’s 1998 Acura Integra was almost driven off his driveway.

“They used like an ice pick to stick inside the lock to break inside, to open the door,” said Bennett.

Bennett says when the thieves saw him, they ran off.

He now locks up his steering wheel and recently bought a security system in case someone gets into his car again.

“I installed an immobilizer car alarm so if they did get in my vehicle and got in they were unable to start the car,” said Bennett.

Besides investing in a security system, car experts say don’t forget to get good car insurance.

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