Police: West Richland car prowls spike very abnormal

WEST RICHLAND, Wash. -- 17 cars were prowled late Monday night. We took a look at why those numbers are substantial, especially when compared to the last few months.

Abel Lopez didn't expect his street to be the target of thieves.

"People come here for yard sales all the time in this neighborhood. It's a very safe neighborhood, nobody ever does crime," he says.

17 cars were broken into on Holly Way over the course of a long night.
They were looking for some valuables and got away without anyone noticing.

"We always watch each other's neighborhood, but evidently not too good," Abel added.

The 17 break-ins in about a day when are staggering when you consider West Richland has seen 29 such car prowls this month.
Even more surprising is the fact that there wasn't a single reported car prowl last month. Last year, less than 30 car prowls were reported across all of West Richland according to the crime tracking site, Raids Online.

Police say the recent outbreak it's likely the work of a group.

"Sometimes groups will come into an area, you'll see a huge spike in car prowls and they'll go away. And that's one of the frustrating things about car prowlers is that they're notoriously difficult to predict," says Richland Captain Mike Cobb.

Richland, Pasco and Kennewick, have seen steady numbers of car prowls so far this year. Kennewick leads the Tri-Cities with 335.

That's almost 50 a month.

But even with the latest geo policing software, police say a car prowler needs just a few seconds to get into your car, which makes it a hard crime to stop.

"An officer literally has to be on top of the individual," Captain Cobb added.

Apart from locking your cars, closing your garage door can deter thieves.

"Especially with the high temperatures, people want to open it up and air it out, understandable, but put window fans in, something that's gonna be a little more low-tech and make your residence a little tougher target," Captain Cobb says.

For many people across town, that advice comes too late.

Police say the prowls likely won't stop until the people responsible are caught. Even then, car prowls are extremely difficult to pin on someone unless they're caught in the act.