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Vehicle Prowlers hit First Hill

Haphazard thieves reportedly struck over 50 vehicles in the neighborhood, primarily along 71st and 72nd avenues SE.

say they are investigating at least 50 car break-ins reported Monday morning in the neighborhood.

Police say an unknown number of suspects targeted vehicles parked overnight Sunday alongside the street and parked in carports next to residential homes in a concentrated area from south to SE 29th Street and between 66th and 72nd avenues SE. The vehicles and items taken from inside appeared haphazard and random, said Mercer Island Police Commander Leslie Burns.

Vehicle registration documents, electronics, GPS systems, iPods were stolen from the inside of some vehicles, while the owners of other vehicles discovered checkbooks, backpacks and iPods were left behind in others. Burns said police were in the early stages of investigation and currently had no suspects in the car prowling incidents.

"They come in waves," she said. "Typically, when we get hit with car prowls, they hit entire neighborhoods and that's what happened here. We can go for months where it goes quiet, and we haven't had a wave of car prowls for a while."

A First Hill resident who declined to give her name said she was taking an early-morning walk around 6:30 a.m. when she noticed some shattered glass on 71st Avenue SE near SE 29th Street. 

"I thought somebody dropped something and didn't think anything of it," she said. "But when I got to the corner I could see what happened. It was car after car. It wan't every house it wasn't every car but it seemed to be newer cars."

At a home on the 2700 block 71st Ave. SE, thieves allegedly smashed out the windows of a Chevrolet Avalanche truck and a Honda Accord Coupe but only took an oxygen sensor from the car. On the 7100 block of SE 29th Street, another homeowner reported the windows of his Ford F100 truck and Ford Expedition SUV were smashed and a GPS unit was taken from inside. But only a block away on the 2700 block of 72nd Avenue, another homeowner reported his vehicles, a Volkswagen Jetta, Mazda Sport truck, and a Lexus RX300 were unlocked and all car prowled — but no items were stolen from inside.

Burns recommended that all vehicle owners take precautions to prevent car prowls:

  • Lock your car doors.
  • Remove all valuables that are visible from the outside.
  • Don't leave your GPS navigation device mounted to the window when you leave your car. 
  • Don't leave money sitting on the vehicle's dashboard or in the console
  • Don't leave purses and bags out in the open

Taking these precautions, however, is no fail-safe, said Burns.

"We could conceivably be hit once again," she said. "These are (crime trends) that we see that go up and down."

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