In April, there were more than 20 reports of stolen Ford pickup trucks between Everett and Arlington, according to court records filed in connection with a recent auto theft case.
"It is continuing in May," said Sgt. Jason Longoria, a Washington State Patrol trooper who heads the Snohomish County Auto Theft Task Force. "We have seen thefts from Auburn all the way up to Bellingham, These people are traveling all over the place to steal 250s and 350s."
Owners of full-size Ford F-250 and F-350 pickups made between 2000 and 2006 should be alert to the rash of thefts because their vehicles can be stolen in less than 30 seconds, he said.
"A group of local car thieves has figured this out," he said. "This has been a problem in other parts of the country and it finally has hit our area."
The theft of a 2002 Ford F-350 pickup last week led to a police chase from Marysville to Everett. Kevin Diltz, 30, allegedly fired at least three shots at a Marysville police officer after abandoning the truck in north Everett. He later was arrested at gunpoint.
The older F-250s and F-350s don't have the enhanced anti-theft protections of newer models and car thieves know that. Longoria didn't get into specifics, saying he didn't want to provide how-to tips to criminals.
Many of the stolen pickups are stripped for tires and auto parts. Some merely are taken for joy rides. Often, they are targeted for the tool box or equipment that may be in the truck bed.
In some cases, the thieves steal the trucks so they can haul goods away during burglaries.
Such was the case in Marysville last month.
The auto theft task force recently arrested a Lake Stevens man, 33, who was driving a Ford pickup that he allegedly admitted he knew was stolen. He and his girlfriend had taken the truck for a drive in the snow on Green Mountain east of Granite Falls, court records said. The truck got stuck and they spent a night on Green Mountain.
Auto theft task force members caught up with the couple the next day.
The girlfriend later was found to be in possession of another stolen Ford pickup, court papers said.
The stolen trucks allegedly were used to haul two stolen motorcycles and to plunder storage units in Marysville in April.
Last week, the Lake Stevens man parked behind a detective's vehicle, allegedly in an attempt to block the officer from catching up with another suspect who raced by in a stolen black Ford F-350. That F-350 later was recovered.
Longoria recommends owners of the older full-sized Ford pickups park in garages and think about buying vehicle immobilizer equipment.
He also suggests installing a GPS system or a stolen-vehicle recovery unit that uses an unmarked radio frequency transceiver for tracking purposes.
Local law enforcement agencies are keeping watch for more pickup thieves.
"They are taking property from good honest citizens," Longoria said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; email@example.com.
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