skip to left menu
skip to main content

 

investigations· Auto Theft Program

The Washington State Patrol Auto Theft Section was established with the formation of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in 1982. As part of the CID, the Auto Theft Section consists of dedicated detectives assigned in four major metropolitan areas of the state to investigate auto theft and related crimes. In 1999, the Auto Theft Section was enhanced with the establishment of three Regional Auto Theft Units (King County, Spokane and Tacoma), and the assignment and training of dedicated; auto theft detectives in Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma.

Since inception, the goal of the Auto Theft Section had been to reduce the incidence of vehicle and major component vehicle part theft and related crime. Since that time, each Regional Auto Theft Unit has become involved in numerous high-profile auto theft cases, resulting in hundreds of stolen vehicles worth millions of dollars, major component vehicle parts, and other property being recovered and returned to the rightful owners. All the while, working cooperatively with other local, state, and federal enforcement authorities in multi-agency task force-type settings in order to garner substantial state and federal prosecutions.

The Problem


The incidence of auto theft and related crimes continues to be a major concern for Washington residents. In 2005, more vehicles were reported stolen (41,293) to Washington Crime Information Center (WACIC) than any other year in Washington State history. Although reported stolens in Washington were down in 2013 (26,538), the national trend continued to show increases in auto theft for most western states. The CID's Auto Theft Section continues to take a proactive multi-pronged approach and continually searches for new innovative ways to address the problem.

When compared to the national statistics for 2005, Washington ranked third in the nation for auto theft with a per capita rate of 5.54 per 100,0000 inhabitants. Washington State’s stolen vehicles per capita rates have been on a steady decline since 2005, and although Washington State ranke fourth in the nation for 2013, the per capita rate was 3.21 per 100,000 inhabitants.

In Washington State, 84 percent of all auto theft continues to occur in the most heavily populated area, such as King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Yakima, and Clark counties.

Auto Theft Facts & Prevention


In Washington State . . .

  • More vehicles are stolen on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday
  • An average of 65 cars are stolen every day
  • A car is stolen every 15 minutes.
  • Many stolen vehicles are used for other crimes.
  • One out of five stolen cars are started with a key that was left in the car.

What can you do?

  • Never leave your keys in your car... Don't make it easy to steal!
  • Never hide a second key on the car.
  • Lock your car.
  • Park in a well-lighted area.
  • Don't leave valuables in plain sight.
  • Use anti-theft devices like car alarms, locking bars, and kill switches.
  • Never leave the motor running while running a quick errand.
  • Completely close car windows.

Contact Information


WSP Criminal Investigation Division
PO Box 42637
Olympia WA 98504-2637
(360) 704-2950

After hours, please contact your local WSP Office.

Back to Top

 

Quick Links

Just Stolen Vehicle