Car thefts baffle Richland Police

RICHLAND, Wash. -- The KEPR Crime Tracker is following car thefts in our area. We learned Richland is pacing to have 50 percent more cars stolen this year.

In the last decade, Jeremiah Leibold has had his brushes with thieves.

"A storage locker that was broken into, I've had my car gone through before. I had a boom box stolen," he listed his run-ins.

So far nothing more serious than that, but Jeremiah wasn't surprised to learn car thefts are a growing problem in Richland.

So far this year, there have already been 27 cars swiped. Police say that's worrisome considering they only had 33 total in all of last year.

"Trucks and SUVs and all sorts of different vehicles being stolen," says Captain Mike Cobb.

What's even harder to crack, is that there doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason. Thieves are not following typical patterns and targets seem to be more random.

"We've studied it, we've looked at it from a bunch of different angles and there's just no evidence to tell us why not."

Captain Cobb says in previous years, Richland has seen up to 70 stolen cars a year. He says we may be moving back to that with this new set of heists.

We took this story even broader to look elsewhere around the Tri-Cities. Pasco and Kennewick are pacing normally with car thefts, but as a metro area, the Tri-Cities is actually hitting a four year low.

After an uptick in 2012 and 2012, car thefts in Tri-Cities have been dropping, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Jeremiah isn't concerned about the spike in Richland.

"The Tri-Cities has been growing quite a bit and there's absolutely no reason we shouldn't expect them to start going up as well to reflect that," he says.

Which could very well be the case, while police try to solve the growing car thefts.

Richland Police say the thieves are stealing all different makes and models, but older model vehicles are the most popular.

Here's the top ten for Washington:

Honda Accord
Honda Civic
Acura Integra
Subaru Legacy
Toyota Camry
Ford Pick-Up
Chevrolet Pick-Up
Nissan Sentra
Chevrolet Pick-Up
Ford Explorer