Auto Theft

  • What do thieves steal from cars?    Electronics, cell phones, wallets, purses, cash, tools, car registration and insurance information.
  • Cars are stolen for many reasons.  
    • The #1 reason is for joy riding.  The model, age and condition make no difference if stolen for a joyride.
    • The #2 reason is to commit another crime.  
    • Some cars are worth more chopped up and sold in parts, than as a whole car.  
    • Drug addiction.  
  • Auto thefts affect everyoneís auto insurance, because insurance companies typically raise premium rates in high crime areas.  
  • The auto theft unit of The Washington State Patrol was forced to shut down in June 2011 due to lack of funding.    

  • 355 stolen vehicles     2015    (Jan - April)
    481 stolen vehicles     2014    Spokane was ranked 6th in the nation; Spokane had the highest rate of vehicle theft of any Washington city in 2014.

    Motorists reported 3,032 stolen vehicles in 2014 in Spokane, about 560 for every 100,000 people.  That was the sixth-highest rate in the U.S. pushing Spokane up from 7th in 2013, despite a 5.4% drop in the number of vehicle thefts reported in 2014.  The rate was slightly lower in the Seattle where they reported 552 stolen vehicles for every 100,000 people. 

    (Spokane Police Dept., KREM-TV, April 1, 2015; National Insurance Crime Bureau, June 2015; Spokane Economic and Demographic Study -
  • Spokane was rated  #4 in the nation for auto theft in 2011.  We had the 4th highest rate of auto thefts per 100,000 residents in the County.  (National Insurance Crime Bureau, 2012)
  • More than 1,800 cars have been stolen in Spokane each year since 2007.  (Spokane Police Dept., January 2013)

  • 836 cars are stolen each year in Spokane's unincorporated County.  A majority of those thefts are done to commit other crimes, such as transporting drugs.   (Washington State Patrol, January 2013) 
  • 74 car thieves were arrested in Spokane in 2010.

  • A car is stolen every 13 minutes in Washington State.  137 are stolen every dayódonít let it be yours.  
  • One in every 5 stolen cars in the state is taken with the car keys, including those which are hidden in the car.  
  • About 85% of cars stolen in Washington are recovered; however, many are almost totaled.  

Protecting Your Vehicle
  • Lock your car, even if itís parked in your driveway.   Roll up the windows, lock the doors, and take your keys with you.
  • Never leave your car running unattended.
  • Never leave keys in a carís ignition.
  • Never leave valuable items in plain view, even if your car is locked.  Keep your valuables out of siteóat a minimum, lock them in your trunk.
  • Lock in your glove box, or remove from your vehicle, any document that a criminal may use to commit fraud and/or identity theft.  (Sensitive information consists of your name, date of birth, social security number, address, or account numbers).
  • Park your vehicle in a garage, if possible, or a well-lit and well-traveled area close to your home.  Avoid parking on the street or in dark areas.  
  • Remove garage door remote controls from vehicles parked outside.  If not removed, the thief may find your home address on documents and use the remote control to enter your garage.  
  • Consider installing an alarm on your vehicle, and advertising the alarm with a sticker on your vehicle.  
  • Install a manual steering-wheel collar to prevent your steering wheel from turning, or a steering wheel-brake pedal lock.  The Club can only be removed with a key or by cutting the steering wheel.  Some alarms also disable the vehicle starter or ignition.  Many insurance companies will discount premiums to owners whose cars are equipped with an audible alarm.  
  • Write your license plate number and VIN on a card and keep it in your wallet.  This information is important to police attempting to find your stolen car.  
  • If your vehicle is stolen, report it to the police immediately.  
  • Make your stolen car easier to locate by installing a tracking system, such as a GPS-based or radio frequency-based system.  Currently, this expense is prohibitive for most car owners.    
  • Record the brand name, model, and serial numbers of all your valuable items.  In the event your property is stolen, this will aid law enforcement in the investigation and recovery efforts.
  • Engrave your driverís license number on your valuable items (in both your car and your home) with an electric engraver.  By doing this, you help law enforcement determine the status and ownership of property they encounter under questionable circumstances.  Use the following format for engraving items like stereos, computers, tools, etc. -   W.A. (your state driverís license #) D.L.