Vehicle theft in King County remains consistent during COVID-19 outbreak

Thieves stole 61 vehicles in 48-hour period this week

Car thieves in King County are staying as busy as usual during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sixty-one vehicles were stolen during a 48-hour period earlier this week, according to the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force, which is dedicated to investigating prolific auto theft offenders through multi-agency cooperation.

“Sadly, these numbers are pretty consistent,” said Sgt. Jeff Maijala, a member of the task force, in a Thursday email to the Kent Reporter.

An average of 30 vehicles were stolen daily in King County in January, 23 in February and 24 in March, Maijala said.

In 2019, the averages were similar as well.

There were 9,938 vehicles reported stolen in King County last year, an average of 27 per day.

The city of Kent ranked ninth in the nation in 2018 with 4.98 cars stolen for every 1,000 residents, according to a study by ASecureLife.com using FBI data from annual reports. Oakland topped the rankings with 7.08 thefts per 1,000. The national average is two cars stolen per 1,000 people.

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla said at the time that one reason for the high rate in Kent was that car thieves know the penalties aren’t very stiff in King County.

“One of the more frustrating factors is that the penalties for vehicle theft in King County are extremely low,” Padilla said in a 2018 Kent Reporter article about the high rate. “In the last two years our arrests of vehicle thieves has been some of the highest we have seen in our history, yet criminals arrested and charged with multiple arrests are released within a matter of days. There is very little deterrent in terms of penalties.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, car thieves are among those who might not serve any time in an effort to keep jail populations lower to help avoid a outbreak among inmates. Vehicle theft is considered a nonviolent crime. The city of Kent has reduced its jail population by arresting people but not booking for certain crimes.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Nurse Sylvia Keller, pictured with Gov. Jay Inslee, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Yakima County. Courtesy photo
Governor doubles down on mask rules

Inslee: Starting July 7, businesses do not serve those who do not wear a mask

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline. Courtesy image
Drug courts, officer de-escalation programs impacted by MIDD cuts

The fund provides money for mental illness and drug dependency programs across King County.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

Governor Jay Inslee smiles and laughs Sept. 3, 2019, during a speech at the Lynnwood Link Extension groundbreaking in Lynnwood. A Thurston County judge ruled he exceeded his authority when he vetoed single sentences in the state transportation budget in 2019. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Judge invalidates Gov. Inslee’s veto in roads budget

Lawmakers said the governor crossed a constitutional line.

King County cases among younger adults drives increase in COVID-19 numbers

Over half of all new cases are among people ages 20-39

Kirkland man found guilty of promoting prostitution in Eastside sex trafficking ring

Authorities say suspect ran “successful enterprise” for greater half of a decade.

Kirkland allocates CARES Act funding

The council approved the city manager’s plans for the $2.6 million

Most Read