Spokane County Sheriff's Crime & Safety Tips – June 21

Spokane County Sheriff’s Crime & Safety Tips

Vehicle Prowling
By Deputy David Morris

What is vehicle prowling? It is when a car is illegally entered and, many times, items get stolen.

Spring is in full swing and many thousands of people are getting outdoors to enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest! People are hiking, biking, fishing, rock climbing, riding motorcycles, horses, skateboards and doing many other activities! It is easy to understand why this is the favorite time of year for many people. While you are going out and enjoying your leisure activities and maybe doing fitness activities as well, don’t forget that thieves are also out!  

More thieves are out stealing this time of year than in the winter months. One of their easiest targets are motor vehicles (cars, vans, sport utility vehicles, pickups etc). Thieves will get out to not only enjoy the weather, but also to enjoy breaking into cars and stealing your stuff! They particularly will target trailhead parking lots, and parking lots at businesses. Basically, anywhere people leave their car for a few minutes or a few hours, thieves will come by and look for things to steal.

The first thing they might do is check to see if your vehicle is locked. If it isn’t locked, then they get inside and look in your glove box, center console, under the seats and of course look at your bags and containers inside. If it’s locked, the next thing they will do is look through the windows for something to take. If they see something with potential value, they will smash your window and get at it. It might be an empty backpack, but it’s worth it to the thief to smash the window and see if you left something valuable in the backpack. They will smash your window for pocket change, a car charger, or sunglasses… even very inexpensive sunglasses. Just because you think it is cheap, doesn’t mean a thief won’t break your car window to get it.

Your best defense is to 1) Lock your vehicle, and 2) Keep valuables out of sight. Put your valuables in the trunk, or better yet, carry them with you. Don’t leave backpacks, diaper bags, gym bags or purses in sight inside your empty vehicle. During times of darkness, park in well-lighted areas so would-be thieves don’t have a good hiding spot when they do their dirty work.

I recommend  having a car alarm. Also, when you hear a car alarm go off, I hope you will stop what you are doing and look. If it appears a crime is occurring, or just occurred, please call 911. You might want to consider carrying your vehicle registration paperwork and proof of insurance on you. If a thief prowls your car, they can get those documents and then they would have your home address. You must have those documents on-hand to present to a law enforcement officer if you get stopped, but you don’t need to leave them unattended in your car. Also, please don’t ever leave your car running, “just for a second” while you go into a store, business, or back into your house. It creates an opportunity for a thief to steal your whole car!

Car prowlings can happen in any neighborhood or area, so be mindful while you are out having fun, be watchful of your surroundings. If you see suspicious activity, call 911 or Crime Check at 509-456-2233. In fact, just about any time you need help from law enforcement anywhere in Spokane, or Spokane County you should start by calling Crime Check at 509-456-2233. Feel free to reach out to me for more information at dwmorris@spokanesheriff.org. Thank you!