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City hit by wave of car prowls

More than 20 vehicles were prowled in a North-end Island neighborhood on April 15, one of the largest strings of crime in recent years. According to the Mercer Island police report, vehicles parked in the 3700 block of 79th Avenue S.E., 3800 block of 80th Avenue S.E. and the 3800 block of 81st Avenue S.E. were prowled late in the night. Almost all of the vehicles had been unlocked.

Sergeant Marc Marcroft, who is working on the case, said the number of prowls could be greater than 20, as officers are still collecting reports.

“We’re still in the process of gathering information and putting all of these reports together,” he said. “It’s not uncommon that somebody checks their car and things are riffled through, but nothing’s taken, so they don’t report it.”

Belongings were strewn about the seats in more than a dozen cars, yet nothing was reported missing. The items so far reported stolen include two GPS systems, a woman’s purse — which contained three credit cards, two gift cards and approximately $100 in cash — a CPAP machine for the treatment of sleep apnea, differing amounts of cash and various electronic equipment.

While officers were investigating the string of prowls, they discovered a stolen vehicle parked in the 3800 block of 80th Avenue S.E. The MIPD took custody of the vehicle.

A man living in the 4000 block of 78th Avenue S.E. reported that his Toyota Camry was stolen the same night of the car prowls. The man had left his keys in the ignition overnight. The car was located on April 22 in West Seattle when a 15-year-old and 16-year-old were spotted getting out of the Toyota at the Delridge Library. Both youth were arrested and booked into juvenile custody for investigation of auto theft. Police do not yet know if this theft is related to the car prowls.

MIPD officers have recovered several of the items stolen, Marcroft said. Other property was discovered in nearby bushes. Much of this will be used as evidence in the case.

“This might yield some fingerprints,” he said.

So far, none of the cars showed any signs of forced entry.

“Most, if not all, of the prowls were crimes of opportunity. I don’t know of any force being used, but we’re still waiting for reports,” Marcroft said.

The sergeant added that, although the MIPD has not seen a string of prowls this extensive in “recent history,” such a scenario is not unusual.

“We get patterns like this occurring now and then. Often, car prowls are done in sprees. But normally we get six, seven or eight, not two dozen like last week,” Marcroft said.

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