Car thieves targeting apartment complexes

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SHORELINE – Police say car theft has always been a common problem in Western Washington. But thieves seem to be targeting apartment and condo complexes more and more. Many victims are surprised that locked gates and surveillance cameras aren’t enough to keep their cars safe.

A suspected car thief was caught on camera lurking around the front doors of an apartment complex on North Aurora Avenue in Shoreline early Wednesday morning. King County Sheriff’s deputies say shortly after that, he suspect got into the gated parking garage of the complex and stole an SUV.

“He spent half hour down there, he was trying to find the right car,” says Tim, who lives in the complex. “I guess he was able to get into mine.”

Tim isn’t the only victim who’s finding out how common car thefts in apartments are becoming. Two Honda Civics were stolen from an Everett complex this week.

“This is an ongoing epidemic and the police even told me there’s been an influx of reports recently of stolen vehicles,” says Kelli, another theft victim. “If they took two from one apartment complex in the same night, how many can they steal?”

Investigators say apartments aren’t just being targeted because of the number of cars around. In many cases, people leave valuable items in their cars because they think they’ll be safe in their garage.

“Just because it’s a secured garage doesn’t mean it’s totally secure,” says Myrle Carner, with Crimestoppers of Puget Sound. “Take your stuff with you.”

The suspected thief stole items from several cars before taking Tim’s SUV and the golf clubs he had left in the back.

“It’s one of these things,” he says. “We were going to play golf in a few days, we thought we’ll just leave them in there, it’ll be fine. What do you know?”

Crimestoppers did get tips when we aired surveillance pictures of a car thief in North Seattle, so Tim is hopeful someone can help identify the man who stole his vehicle. But even if the guy is caught, the crime has made Tim think twice about how safe his complex is.

“It’s a secure parking garage here. I don’t know what else I can do, other than move out and get a house or something.”

Police in Everett found Tim’s SUV this morning, but he doesn’t know what kind of shape it’s in. He won’t be able to get it from their impound lot until after the holiday weekend.

If you recognize the suspect in the surveillance picture, call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. You could be entitled to a cash reward.

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