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Spike in car prowling hits Lakewood Towne Center

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LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Thieves have broken into 51 cars in Lakewood over the last two weeks. More than half of those break-ins have happened at the same place, the Lakewood Towne center.

Lakewood police are asking for the public’s help to find the crooks and say some of the best crime-fighting tools may already be in your pocket.

“I just moved here, just got a new car, then, bam, this happened,” said Missy Wallace as she points at the newly replaced window of her shiny red Ford.

Friday night, crooks shattered Missy’s window while she ran into Target to return a vacuum.

The break-in happened at the Lakewood Towne Center. The thieves got away with $50 she had stashed in the console but also something with a different kind of value.

“Something memorable that my grandma gave me, that I can never get back, and my winter coat,” said Wallace.

She’s just one of many victims who’ve been targeted by car-prowlers at the Towne Center recently.

“I think on the 19th and 20th we had around 18 on those two days, which is a lot,” said Lt. Chris Lawler with the Lakewood PD.

Lakewood police won’t usually respond to a car prowl if there isn’t any evidence, suspect information or if the damage and loss is less than $1,500.

“I felt like the police let me down a little bit,” said Wallace. But added that they have since contacted her to get more information and do a follow-up.

That recent spike in car prowls is also changing Lakewood Police Department policy on responding to those types of calls for the time being.

“That’s why Chief Zaro wants us out on every single one,” said Lawler.

Police say need they need the public’s help more than ever to catch these crooks.

Which means if you see something suspicious say something and if you can do it safely, take a picture. If it’s nothing, then you’re just stuck with a picture of a stranger on your phone.

“We’ll take that picture from you. I mean, cell phone pictures now are outstanding,” said Lawler.

Target does have surveillance from Missy’s break-in and while police say the crooks will probably look to target another area now it doesn’t mean they will stop.

“We’re going to do some things proactively that we can’t talk about but obviously try to target the area, increase the police presence,” said Lawler.

Missy says because of the recent prowl, her attitude on what she leaves in her car has changed.

“I can’t even leave my scarf in the car anymore.”