After reducing car thefts by nearly 40 percent, the Bellevue Police Department has been named Auto Theft Agency of the Year by the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority.
In 2008, 274 vehicles were stolen in Bellevue, a big drop from the 446 stolen the year before. Auto thefts have been decreasing here every year since 2004, when they hit an all-time high of 607. The trend looks to continue this year, with just 124 vehicles stolen in Bellevue as of Sept. 30.
"This is truly a major accomplishment for the city, and our police department should be congratulated," said City Manager Steve Sarkozy. "And coming on the heels of the recent news of Bellevue being listed again as one of the safest cities in the country, it is icing on the cake."
The Bellevue department has been making a concerted effort to halt car thefts since 2003, when it formed a "Special Enforcement Team," a group of plain-clothes officers that uses traditional and innovative means to tackle problem crimes. The S.E.T. logs long hours of research and surveillance on known car prowlers or thieves.
Credit also goes to Bellevue's auto theft detectives, aggressive patrol enforcement and a state-of-the-art crime lab, which facilitates identification of finger prints lifted from stolen and prowled vehicles.
With a few simple actions, residents themselves can help prevent theft of their cars:
- Never leave anything in your car you don't want stolen. Prowlers will look under seats and in glove compartments.
- Lock your doors.
- Consider using an anti-theft device such as the Club.
- If your vehicle has a keypad entry system, do not leave spare keys inside the car.
- All car owners should check their owner's manual for a "valet key" that thieves can use. Such keys are common in some high-end cars.
The Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority was formed by the state Legislature to address a statewide rise in auto thefts. It includes representatives of law enforcement, prosecution, the auto industry and the insurance industry.
Return to News Release Index