Car prowls, package thefts on the rise in Renton neighborhood

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RENTON, Wash. -- Crooks are targeting cars in a big way in King County.

Neighbors in the Renton Highlands said thieves have rifled through more than a dozen cars in just the past several weeks.

“I came out and the car had been vandalized,” said neighbor Melody Kroeger.

Kroeger is only one of several victims in her neighborhood. She shared photographs she took of the mess the crooks left behind.

“It was particularly upsetting to me was that it was so close to the house,” she said. “Having them come down the driveway brings it, literally, a little close to home.”

The neighborhood association said car prowlers are after laptops and backpacks – or anything else that’s left in plain sight.

But it’s not just car prowls plaguing the area. Neighbor Graem Looper said he found several packages torn open and left on the side of the road.

“In the middle of the day, there’s a ripped open package sitting in the yard,” he said. “That looked pretty obvious -- packing everywhere.”

There is an active community watch program in the neighborhood. When Looper posted his discovery online, more victims came forward

“An hour or two later, everybody starts popping up with emails, ‘hey my package too, my package too.’

Renton Police remind everyone that car prowls are easily preventable if drivers remove everything valuable from inside the car -- and more importantly, lock the doors.

But Kroeger plans to take extra steps to keep her property protected.

“I’m adding wireless, battery-operated motion detectors and also security cameras,” she said. "Light up the house, light up the premises.”

The area neighborhood association has planned a community meeting where folks can talk about ideas to keep their streets safe. It happens December 1 at the Renton Library.