BCSO sees uptick in vehicle thefts during winter, warns drivers to stay vigilant

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Officials with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) are reminding drivers to stay vigilant in the winter as that’s when vehicle thefts are more common.

Currently, Benton County has seen four stolen cars since the start of 2022 — just a 10 day period.

Lt. Jason Erickson with the BCSO said the rise in crime comes with the cold temperatures.

“They have their car in the driveway and it’s running or it’s cold outside and they park outside the store and run in for whatever item they’re getting and come back out and the car is gone,” Lt. Erickson said.

But in just those few minutes, thieves can strike.

“We hear about it every year usually when winter starts because people want to be warm in their car but that’s usually when we see an uptick in vehicles being stolen,” Lt. Erickson said.

His tips on making sure this doesn’t happen to you?

“Lock your cars. Don’t keep your keys or your key fobs in your car,” Lt. Erickson said. “Make sure the windows are up.”

He added that it’s important to check the inside of the vehicle so no valuables are in plain sight like electronics, purses, and cash, making it a “crime of opportunity.”

Also, if you have access to a garage, park the car there rather than on a street.

But if you do all of these things and you are a victim of theft?

“Call dispatch at 509-628-0333 or call 911 immediately,” Lt. Erickson said. “You’re going to want to have your information. License, where the vehicle is taken from, the timeframe about when you last saw it, a description of the vehicle. We’re going to want to know if you have stickers on it or if there’s any gas and how much gas. Also, if there’s any noticeable damage to the car.”

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