It's a quick crime of opportunity that's happening more often in Seattle. According to the latest crime stats released by the Seattle Police department, car prowls are on the rise.
The numbers for 2016 show 2,950 in the city so far. That's up 22 percent from the same period in 2015.
Detective Patrick Michaud said one surprising place it's happening more often is in parking garages.
"Bad guys aren't dumb about how they do this," Michaud said. "They like to go into places where they know they're not being watched as they do their dirty deeds. And they know that people come into work, and they're going to leave their car for a few hours. That's when criminals know they have time to get their job done, which is to break into your car and steal your stuff."
Michaud says Seattle's Belltown and the downtown core have been showing up on reports a lot. He says many of those car prowls are reported between 7 a.m. and noon.
SPD posted a graphic to the neighborhood social media website Nextdoor that shows high reports of car prowls in north Seattle, particularly in the Northgate area.
Michaud says thankfully people are reporting the crimes to Seattle's police department. He says they can't track the thefts without good data to direct them to car prowling hotspots.
A few tips Michaud gives to make your car less of a prowl target:
- Remove all your valuables.
- Toss your visible belongings, bags in the trunk. A prowler just sees a bag to steal.
- Always remove the keys, roll up the windows and lock the car when leaving the car parked.
- If your car is stored in a carport or parked near your house, leave your exterior lights on throughout the night.