West Seattle Crime Watch: Preventing car prowls

Car prowls remain our area’s biggest crime problem – we hear that every time someone from SPD speaks at a community meeting, and we see it in the reader reports we receive and publish. So tonight, the Southwest Precinct is sharing a “crime prevention bulletin” one-sheet with advice on preventing/deterring/reporting car prowls. Click the image above, or go here, for the full-size PDF version; use the Share This button below to e-mail or otherwise circulate it.

P.S. Questions/concerns about crime in your neighborhood? Bring them to the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting at the precinct (2300 SW Webster) next Tuesday, 7 pm.

17 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Preventing car prowls"

  • Mocking Bird March 10, 2016 (10:45 pm)

    I’m always conflicted when I see these types of messages.  While I typically practice these tips myself, it strikes me as a version of blame the victim.  Kind of like telling women they shouldn’t wear provocative clothing so the don’t get sexually assaulted.  If nothing else it looks weak on the city’s part as if they’re resigned to failure on this issue.  

    Honest question, how does this align with the city’s narrative/data on crime being down?
    • WSB March 10, 2016 (11:03 pm)

      I didn’t write that car prowls are up – just that police say over and over again, it’s this area’s worst problem. (And other areas of the city, for that matter.) Violent crime in WS is relatively low … about a tenth the number of incidents of property crime. You can check the stats via the much-touted SPD Dashboard. http://www.seattle.gov/seattle-police-department/crime-data/crime-dashboard – For example, if you choose property crime for the Southwest Precinct (which is West Seattle and South Park) for all of 2015, 3,342 incidents were reported; that compares to 3,135 for all of 2014, but both of those are down from 3,675 for all of 2013, which was up from the previous year, and it appears to have been up and down a bit for the preceding years. Violent crime incident totals for 2014 and 2015, again, via the dashboard, were almost unchanged – 333 last year, 339 in 2014. – TR

    • KM March 11, 2016 (8:11 am)

      I get what you’re saying. It always reads to me that if I leave a coffee cup or spare blanket in my car (and those who follow recommendations for keeping safety and emergency kits in cars) I’m at fault for a crime committed by someone else. Yet I’ve done nothing wrong. There aren’t enough police to address property crime in the state with the worst rates (I think still?), so responsibility to stop criminals is ours. And since anything is apparently a target, please bring in your blankets, dog bed, car seat, travel mugs, chains, spare oil quarts, insurance papers, installed stereo…

      • Joe Szilagyi March 11, 2016 (11:45 am)

        KM, Seattle is fourth in the nation for worst property crime rates. The Mayor and SPD certainly aren’t going to advertise that.

        • KM March 11, 2016 (1:42 pm)

          Thanks, I wasn’t sure about Seattle exclusively, I knew that WA was top for states and one point recently. Nothing to brag about there!

  • Eric March 11, 2016 (3:33 am)

    A bulletin in the obvious

  • Alan March 11, 2016 (7:23 am)

    My only complaint with the list is “never leave valuables in plain view”. First, the word “plain” is unnecessary, as you don’t want to leave them in any kind of view.

    Second, “valuables” should be replaced with “anything”.  If the doors are locked and there is a container of something in your car, you are going to get a broken window so that the thief can find out what it is.

    I don’t agree that this is blaming the victim, though it would feel that way if someone were to tell you this after it happened. People that have had their cars broken into will give you the same instructions, but you shouldn’t have to hear it from a victim.

  • West Seattle Hipster March 11, 2016 (7:27 am)

    It’s just common sense.  I leave nothing visible in my vehicles that a criminal might perceive as valuable.  

  • Bill Bob March 11, 2016 (7:53 am)

    It’s not blaming victims. Just clean your darn cars up and bring your stuff in! It’s ridiculous to think that your car should store items or be used as a temporary trash holder, especially non-van type vehicles. Bring your items in the house. If enough people do this, it becomes too much work for prowlers to find cars with items. 

  • forgotmyname March 11, 2016 (8:05 am)

    I’m not sure how anyone can see a professional safety recommendation as blaming the victim (not to mention the crassness of using  sexual assault –  an issue rife
    with gender-based systemic prejudices against the victims – to having
    your car rifled through).   They are suggestions to help avoid being a victim by outlining successful safety tactics, not a moral judgement or revocation of being the victim because you didn’t follow it.  

    There is a huge difference between “Don’t leave your new laptop in your car because scumbags will take it” versus “they’re not scumbags, it’s your fault for leaving the laptop in your car” or “you’re not a victim, you deserved to be robbed because you had a new laptop” (both of which are victim blaming).  

  • Sue March 11, 2016 (9:51 am)

    While I agree that we “should” be able to leave anything we want in our cars and not have entitled thieves steal it, we have to be realistic that we do not live in Mayberry. I constantly see people talking about how their car was prowled and they lost their computers, purses, $1,000 something-or-other, all their Christmas presents, etc. and I’m in awe that people think they can live in a large city and leave this stuff visible. It’s become apparent that we can’t leave things even “just for a minute.” The other thing would be that if you need/want to hide something in your trunk, it needs to be put there BEFORE you get to your destination. If someone sees you put something away and then you leave, they know to look for it.  And even hiding it ahead of time, we need to realize that *anything* left in the car (even if hidden away) is fair game if someone wants to rifle through the car. It’s a sad reality of life in the city.

    • Bill Bob March 11, 2016 (12:40 pm)

      Yes! Sue! Thank you.

  • faceless March 13, 2016 (10:21 pm)

    i never leave anything in my truck but was the victim on friday night of a break in. There was nothing to steal, just some bowling shoes which are not high on a drug addicts list of s–t to sell. Lucky for me the guy got caught only because afterwards he went home and beat up his girlfriend and she called the police and somehow another, the police figured somethings out and she managed to caugh up the information that he was out breaking into cars in West Seattle all night friday. Appearantly she took the cops to his hiding place where he manages to store the s–t he steals. I get the police report on Monday and plan on taking him to court to pay for the damage. The guys needs to learn a lesson, i just don’t know what that lesson is. Any ideas, let me know. 

    • WSB March 13, 2016 (10:52 pm)

      I’d be interested in following the case if you get/can send us the name. Or at least the incident # and I can try to get the name from there. Otherwise, without names, we have no way of ever following up … we don’t even ever hear about most arrests and I wouldn’t know about this case except for your mention – editor@westseattleblog.com – TR

  • ChannelingLewisBlack March 13, 2016 (11:25 pm)

    While I understand the pragmatic reality of “life in the big city” still find it unacceptable that this is SPD’s (apparently) only preventative measure, and, moreover, that we as a society accept this.  I worked in Japan for a number of years, left my laptop in public areas twice, my credit card and wallet once each, always returned.  Why is it so acceptable that we allow scumbags to steal mail and rifle through our autos?  Canada uses bait cars to catch auto thieves.  Not sure why we feel so helpless to do anything other than play defense…

  • Barbara Armo March 14, 2016 (5:41 am)

     I like the idea of bait cars, or would that be entrapment?

  • miws March 14, 2016 (7:29 am)

    Re: bait car; I believe there was a mention here on WSB within about the last week or so, of bait cars having been tried, and why they didn’t work.  


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