Seattle Sees Big Surge In Car Thefts

Estimated read time 3 min read

This same trend is happening in other cities, too.

A new report from The Seattle Times highlights the growing problem of car theft, which averaged 19 vehicles in a day in 2022. That means a total of 6,911 for the entire year, the most Seattle has ever seen since at least 2008.

Learn why thieves are targeting electric car chargers here.

The Seattle Times report goes on to try connecting the covid pandemic to increased car thefts. The author argues car theft is “typically a crime of opportunity.” I couldn’t disagree more, especially with modern vehicles.

To steal a car with keyless ignition, one has to carry with them a device which can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. If you’re carrying such a thing with you, in a group of other car thieves, driving an already stolen car to cover your tracks, that’s not a crime of opportunity. This guy misses the boat: most of these car thefts are being pulled off by members of organized crime. It’s not some person who just happens to see their neighbor’s car door open and the keys are already in the ignition.

Sure, it was easier hunting in some ways during the pandemic. After all, thieves love cars that sit for long periods of time, like in hospital, airport, and movie theater parking lots. With people locked inside their houses for days on end, they could swipe cars with ease. But the pandemic wasn’t the reason these organizations were stealing cars.

Just because two events correlate doesn’t mean there’s a causal association. If that were the case, we’d see car theft rates plummeting as the pandemic measures ended and people were back on the streets. Instead, we’ve see rates increase, including in areas where lockdowns weren’t much of a thing. So much for that connection between covid and car theft.

Still, there’s good news if you live in Seattle: the police there say 86% of stolen vehicles are recovered. That’s actually a high rate and if accurate, which we can only assume it is, that would back up the claim the police department makes that they’re stolen only as “temporary transportation.” But we don’t think that means they’re being driven to a person’s legitimate job. Instead, they’re probably used for drive-by shootings, robberies, etc. Any way you cut it, car theft rates seem to be climbing all over the country and everyone needs to be digging deep for reasons why, not excuses for the criminals.

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