Cost of car theft goes beyond the victim

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SEATTLE — The number of car thefts are dropping across the nation, but not in Washington state.

Seattle alone is a hot bed for car thieves. Compared to last year, thefts are up a whopping 40%.

According to the NW Insurance Council, the average value of a car reported stolen was about $6,000.

But a car theft doesn’t just affect the victim. Detectives assigned to the cases say it’s tedious and time-consuming.

It’s a crime of opportunity that can happen anywhere.

“It’s invasive, it’s your personal property,” Pieter Lagerwey said.

Lagerwey’s Toyota Camry was stolen on Super Bowl Sunday in February. He got another Camry, but then a crook smashed into his ride again, getting away with his electronics.

“Two weeks ago, this car got broken into in north Seattle in my carport,” Lagerwey said.

Seattle police say areas north of the Ship Canal are prime targets for car thieves, with the Northgate area topping the list.

“The Northgate mall itself, and the Target store on Northgate Way, that parking garage is one of our problem areas,” police detective Hiro Yamashita said.

Anywhere with a large collection of cars and a lot of distraction is the perfect environment for thieves.

“The vast majority of stolen cars are recovered,” Yamashita said.

The cars are recovered but the case doesn’t end there.

“It takes us literally a full shift, nine hours, to go through that car and catalogue who owns this, who owns that,” Yamashita said.

Police say it’s a tedious job going through just one stolen car, precious time that could be spent on more serious crimes.

“When I had my car stolen, I had to fill out paperwork — it took me three hours. They (police) have to come, it was a long process,” Lagerwey.

That’s why police cannot emphasize enough the importance of protecting your car and using common sense when parking.

Another important thing to ask yourself is whether you have optional comprehensive insurance coverage so that you’re compensated in case your car is stolen.



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