Car thefts up 60% in Kennewick

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- The KEPR Crime Tracker learned car thefts are way up in Kennewick and it could get worse before it gets better.

15 years of living in Kennewick hasn't made Linda Filla feel any safer.
Linda says she sees groups of criminals casing her neighborhood.

"Driving through is one thing, but when you see them over and over again, or you see them go real slow, it's nerve wracking," says Kennewick resident Linda Filla.

Police say that's not far from the truth. Kennewick has seen a 60 percent increase in car thefts over the first six months of the year, compared to the same time last year.

"Right now, we're going from call to call to call. It's stacked up all day long," says Kennewick Sgt. Ken Lattin.

He says most of the thefts are happening right in the center of town, just east of Highway 395. More than 120 cars have been stolen in Kennewick through the end of June.

That's about one stolen car every day and a half.

Sgt. Lattin says a lot of it comes from a continuous cycle of bad guys going in and out of jail.

"A lot trends are attributed to who's out of prison. Incarceration does work. When people are in jail and their typical MO is stealing cars, they're not stealing them and our auto thefts go down," he says.

Along with car thefts, car prowls are up a quarter over the same time period as well. Police say avoiding becoming a victim can be as simple as locking your car doors. Many crooks don't break windows to get inside.

Linda says she just wants it stop.

"Something needs to be done. Exactly what, I don't know."

While police try to get a leg up on a growing car theft problem.

Police say more than half of the car break-ins reported this year have been of unlocked car doors. Also, keeping valuables out of sight will substantially reduce your risk of a break-in.