Crime Tracker: Auto thefts dropping in Richland

RICHLAND -- Your car is one of the biggest investments in your life. So when it's taken from you, it's a massive loss. It's why Action News is tracking stolen auto cases in the Tri-Cities.

Most prowls and auto thefts are from unlocked cars. At least that's what Joel Money thought. So he took every precaution, but still wound up a victim.

"Well, it's awful. You have your private property broken into, stuff stolen from you, it's no good," said Joel Money.

Joel, like many others in the Tri-Cities, never thought it would happen to them.

Reporter: "They almost stole your car."
"Yeah, they probably could've. I mean it doesn't take that much to hot wire a car," said Money.

Stolen car cases are taking a nose-dive in Richland. So far this year, compared to the same time period last year, cases have dropped by 54%.

"When these cases go down. It means something is working. And it could be just a matter of the citizens being more aware," said Richland Police Sergeant Brian Ruegsegger.

Officials attribute the decline to grant money. Funds go toward overtime to work these cases. RPD also has access to cameras in trouble zones. Apartment complexes near Duportail tend to be hot spots.

"If we find them, we try and get fingerprints and evidence that lead them to the car," said Sgt. Ruegsegger.

The department will send officers to process these cases, even if the car is found in a nearby city. Every small step helps.

Police are also serious when it comes to people warming up their cars when the driver isn't present. First, it's illegal, and second, it gives an open door of opportunity to thieves.

Advice to protect you from being the next victim.

We also pulled the numbers of stolen cars in Kennewick and Pasco. Officials released numbers from January through September of this year compared to the same time last year. Numbers are staying steady in the triple digits.