Snatched no more: fewer stolen cars ending up in Benton County

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- KEPR found your chances of becoming a car theft victim are way down in Benton County.

It's another day and another stolen car recovered. Towing operators like Dan Marquez have seen it time and time again: cars stolen, stripped, and abandoned, only to end up in the middle of a towing yard.

"(Police) call us and say a car has been abandoned and once in a while on these lots we'll even find a car that's stolen"

"Once in a while" is key, especially when you consider the numbers. This year, the number of stolen cars dumped in Benton County has dropped by 40%. KEPR learned emphasis patrols by deputies have done the trick. When stolen car cases spiked in 2010, authorities started patrolling known dumping spots for snatched cars. In the two years since, the number of car theft cases has plunged, and half-a-dozen crooks arrested.

And that could be the key to this whole thing. Many of the cars in towing lots are being stolen by gang members, so by getting them off the streets, fewer cars will be stolen.

As KEPR has told you before, the Benton County gang unit has arrested 50 known gang members in the last year.

"We've been able to see where they've left cars, what time of day it happens, so we can anticipate when they show up with stolen cars," says Sgt. Carlos Trevino, Benton County Gang Unit.

It may never be stopped completely, but in Benton County, there is now an extra security blanket between you and your ride.