Rising Auto Theft Rates in Seattle: How to Protect Your Vehicle

Written By Alla Levin
June 19, 2023

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a series of unexpected consequences. One alarming trend was the important rise in auto thefts in Washington, with special emphasis on the Seattle area.

According to the latest National Insurance Crime Bureau’s 2022 Vehicle Theft Trend Report, the Evergreen State ranked third in the country regarding stolen vehicles in 2022, with 46,939 stolen cars out of 1,001,967 countrywide.

The disturbing data gathered by Washington was topped by California and Texas, two states with significantly larger populations. The same report found that the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area was ranked 7th nationwide, with over 30,500 vehicles stolen in the previous year, marking a massive 30% boost compared to 2021.

Car Thefts in Seattle Up By 73%Rising Auto Theft Rates in Seattle

The number of vehicle thefts in Seattle reached levels never recorded in 2022. On an average day, around 19 cars and trucks were reported stolen here, leading to close to 7,000 motor vehicles falling victim to opportunist car thieves throughout the year.

The figure marked the highest number to be recorded since 2008. According to data from the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force, among the most vulnerable areas in Seattle, statistics spoke about King County with 1,351 stolen vehicles and Pierce County with 748 cases of stolen cars in February of 2023 alone. 

With the task force and police authorities recommending car owners use anti-theft devices to add extra layers of protection to their vehicles, it is easy to see why more people are directing their attention to professional car locksmith services and taking additional precautions to protect against thieves.

This is particularly true in the case of Ford owners, which seem to be the go-to target for thieves according to Seattle police data, closely followed by brands like Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, GMC, Nissan, and Dodge. In light of these alarming statistics, vehicle owners in the state need to take extra precautions and implement effective measures to safeguard their vehicles against theft. 

Anti-Car Theft Tips from the Task Force

Besides the standard recommendations regarding how to choose the safest, well-lit parking spots, Seattle’s task force advises vehicle owners to take the following precautions:

  • Always remove the car keys and key fobs from the vehicle when parked, even when running quick errands in the neighborhood.
  • Never leave the engine running and the car unattended, especially in the winter when the exhaust will make them easier to observe by opportunist neighborhood thieves. 
  • Install steering wheel locks, wheel immobilizer, gear lever, or clutch pedal security devices, especially if you drive a Kia or Hyundai. Car owners can install these devices using DIY instructions or expert automotive locksmiths.
  • Look into the option of receiving free locks for steering wheels from police in Seattle that are part of a distribution program belonging to the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force.
  • Cleverly hide or completely remove any purses, laptops, jewelry, and other valuables from the car.
  • Keep all doors and the trunk locked at all times. 
  • Rely on anti-theft devices, including kill switches and car alarms.

Pay Attention to the Mirrors

Modern-day luxury cars feature mirrors that fold and unfold automatically when the vehicle is locked and unlocked or when the engine is on/off. Thieves who keep up with the latest car technology trends for vehicles know this information and they use it to their best advantage. They lurk around the neighborhood, looking at parked cars with electric retractable door mirrors that are unfolded. These indicators are their “green light” that they have found an unlocked car they could easily steal. 

Seeing an unfolded mirror on a car automatically means the doors are unlocked, and the key fob left is most likely left behind, usually sitting in the ignition. If you own such a model, make sure you never leave it unlocked and double-check that you have the key fob on you before exiting. 

Another important precautionary measure that many car owners tend to ignore is the state of the sunroof and windows. Even if the doors are properly locked, it is still mandatory to check the state of the windows and sunroof, if the case, and properly secure them.

The Risk of Relay Theft auto theft rates in Seattle

Theft of keyless cars, also known as relay theft, refers to using a device to trick the vehicle into believing the right key fob is in its proximity. This way, the car can be easily unlocked, and the ignition can be started. The bad news is that thieves who use the relay theft method only need to be a few meters away from the vehicle to capture the signal successfully. This means the method works even when the keys are inside the house, and the car can be parked in the driveway. 

To protect a keyless car, invest in a quality Faraday bag that is a pouch used to block signals, and remember to turn off the wireless signals on the key fob when the key is not in use. Employing an expert car locksmith who can reprogram the keys on a recently purchased second-hand car is also a good precaution.

Auto Theft Rates in Seattle: Final Thoughts

Given Seattle’s alarming increase in car theft rates, we must take proactive steps to protect our valuable assets. Just as we secure our homes, it is equally important to extend the same diligence level to safeguard our vehicles.

By adhering to the recommendations provided by the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force and implementing practical measures such as removing keys, installing reliable anti-theft devices, and staying informed about the vulnerabilities associated with modern car technology, we can significantly reduce the risk of becoming victims of auto theft.

By adopting a proactive and security-conscious mindset, we safeguard our own vehicles and contribute to fostering a safer community for everyone.

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