How to keep you and your family safe amid rising property crimes

SPOKANE, Wash. — Hundreds of people park in downtown Spokane each day, and it only takes a split second for you to become the victim of a car prowler. Property crime is on the rise, and it’s no longer just a thing of the night.

According to Spokane Police, car prowlings are up 441-percent in the downtown area, in the first two months of this year, compared to the same time period last year. They saw 36 car prowling cases between January and February in 2021. This year that number jumped to 195 in the same time period.

We’ve all heard it before: don’t leave your belongings behind in plain sight in the car. Often times though, we can ease up on those hard and fast rules as time goes on. Take this as your warning: now is not the time to do that.

Police say it’s easier than you may think to commit these crimes and to also fall victim to them. Spokane Police are getting videos of people breaking into cars in broad daylight and in heavily-trafficked areas.

“There are a lot of issues going on right now. In my opinion, I think drugs are probably the number one cause and number one driver behind the crime,” explained Patrick Striker, Executive Director of Spokane COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services).

Striker says when you’re dealing with addiction, all bets are off. Even if you’re leaving behind just a few dollars in coins. For some people, that’s worth it.

“Addiction is such a major issue that ANYTHING that has value, is worth it and they’re going to take it,” Striker said.

While you may not think your empty duffle bag is of interest to anyone, pay attention to how it may appear to others.

“People say, you know why did they steal my gym socks? Well because they didn’t know it was gym socks. They thought it was the Treasure of the Sierra Madres, so make sure there is nothing that even looks like it could be valuable,” Striker said.

A parking garage may feel safer, but the same rules apply.

“One thing I would add is, fortunately, most of the crimes we’re seeing are not violent. They’re still property crimes, yes that’s frustrating, but I always encourage people to put that in perspective,” Striker added.

Even as a property crime, the downstream effect here becomes identity theft if someone gets their hands on your wallet or purse.

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