Car thieves target park-and-ride lots — especially this one

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Canyon Park Park-and-Ride

BOTHELL — Car thefts are on the rise in parts of Snohomish County.  Thieves are targeting park-and-ride facilities, because many of them have little to no security.

Udo Gaag has been leaving his car at the Canyon Park park-and-ride every day for the past few months.

“I felt very secure, very safe here,” he said.

But Wednesday afternoon, when he returned from work, his car wasn’t in the spot where he left it.

“My heart dropped, I couldn’t believe it when I came here and the car was gone.”

When he called Bothell police, he found out he’s not the only one who’s had a car stolen here.

“The police officer was not surprised, he knew immediately there was no camera here,” he said. ”The impression I got was that it happens often.”

Community Transit did not have exact figures for the number of car thefts at just Canyon Park. But they say since the beginning of the year, there have been 42 thefts at their park-and-ride lots. That’s the same number of thefts for all of 2013.

When we started talking to commuters, the very first person we approached said his car was stolen last month.

“I parked my car right next to the bus stop there,” said Mir Ali. “In the evening it was gone. “

Community Transit only has surveillance cameras in five of their park and ride lots. Canyon Park isn’t one of them. A spokesperson tells us there are plans to install more cameras over the next five years, but it will depend on the budget.

Victims say security needs to be a priority.

“If I was a criminal, I would choose a lot where people are gone all day long,” said Gaag. “It’s not like at a store where people go and come right back. There’s nobody here to watch the cars.”

“Cameras will help a lot,” added Ali. “It will help the police. They cannot be here 100% of the time.”

Ali has a new car now, and he’s continuing to use the park-and-ride lot.

“But every day, I have a lot of fear about it,” he admitted.

Until cameras are added, Gaag isn’t sure he wants to take the chance again.

“I’d think twice, I’d think twice, I really would.”

Community Transit does use bait cars to deter thefts. They also contract with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to patrol lots. But they have more than 40 park-and-rides, and they say they can’t be everywhere at once.

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