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Officers Arrest Prolific Auto Thief, Car Prowler In South Seattle

Auto theft detectives and patrol officers have arrested a 32-year-old man suspected in dozens of car prowls and auto thefts in and around Seattle.

“In the last four of five months there had been a real spike in auto theft and car prowl activity in the South Seattle area,” says Auto Theft Unit Detective Manny Quinonez.

According to Det. Quinonez, the 32-year-old man has  played a major role in that spike, stealing cars and prowling vehicles parked along Lake Washington, in city parks, the parking lots of fitness clubs, at the Jefferson Park golf course on Beacon Hill, and at Westwood Village in West Seattle.  The suspect also stole several vehicles right out of the parking lots of south Seattle schools.

The suspect stole at least 25 to 30 cars—mostly Hondas—using modified keys, called “jigglers”—and then used the vehicles to commit mail theft, additional car prowls, and transport stolen items.

According to Det. Quinonez, when the suspect finished with the cars, he would dump them outside of Seattle in Renton, Des Moines, Sea Tac, Federal Way, and Newcastle.. Then he would steal another vehicle and bring it back to Seattle.

Police caught up with the suspect last week when a South Precinct patrol officer was checking on an abandoned car, parked near Renton Avenue S. and S. Cloverdale, which had been reported stolen.

The officer spotted the suspect walking down the street, and recognized him from an SPD wanted bulletin. Officers and detectives then arrested the suspect at the scene. While in custody, the suspect led police to several stolen vehicles he’d dumped in his neighborhood in south Seattle. Police then booked the suspect into the King County Jail for investigation of vehicle theft.

You can make your vehicle a less appealing target for car prowlers simply by leaving nothing for thieves to steal. “Don’t leave your purse or wallet locked in plain view,” says Det. Quinonez. “Lock your items in your trunk or take your items with you.”

Det. Quinonez also says a steering wheel lock, like The Club, can deter auto thieves. “Car alarms are great, but I prefer the Clubs,” Det. Quinonez says. When car thieves “see a Club, they’re moving on to the next vehicle.”