Are you aiding criminals?

EVERETT — In a matter of seconds, the window shattered and everything inside the car was up for grabs including a purse, a garage door opener and enough personal information to steal the owner’s identity.

"It’s just that easy. They’re in. They’re out," Everett Crime Prevention officer Steve Paxton said Monday.

Paxton, along with other members of the Crime Prevention Alliance of Snohomish County, demonstrated just how easy it is to break into a car.

They broke windows quietly and quickly with the simplest of tools.

"These guys are very opportunistic. They use everyday objects, find a target, hit it and move on," Paxton said after breaking out a window with a pebble.

Car prowls and thefts have been steadily rising throughout the county. Last year, in Everett alone, nearly 1,700 cars were stolen. That’s up 150 percent since 1995.

"The majority of calls we get are for vehicle prowls and thefts," Everett Sgt. Dan Templeman said.

Police see spikes in vehicle crimes during November and December when holiday shoppers leave packages inside their cars. Also, car thieves take advantage of cold weather when people leave cars idling outside their homes, Paxton said.

Vehicle crimes are of growing concern to police as they often facilitate other crimes.

"It definitely spider-webs into other types of crimes," Everett Detective Ryan Dahlberg said.

Drug addicts will break into a car to steal whatever they can to pawn off to buy drugs. Personal documents left in a car can make it easier for thieves to steal someone’s identity, another crime on the rise. And police pursuits often involve stolen vehicles.

"A property crime can turn into a potentially violent crime," Paxton said.

But common sense and a few simple tips can combat thefts and prowls, he said.

The alliance, made up of crime prevention specialists from different police departments, recently surveyed 844 drivers outside malls, theaters, schools and hospitals around the county during a five-day period. About 10 percent of the vehicles weren’t even locked and a majority had valuables in plain view.

The top five items left out were clothes, bags, compact discs, cell phones and electronics. Police even spotted a television and computer sitting out.

"These are easy things for the crooks to liquidate," Paxton said. "It wasn’t a big surprise what we found. Clearly it’s an issue that people are not taking seriously."

The best thing people can do is remove valuables from their vehicles, he said. Without an incentive in plain view, the crook is going to move on.

"Crooks get emboldened when they’ve been successful," Paxton said. "We need the community’s help to try to get this under control. The police can’t do it alone."

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or

Talk to us

More in Local News

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks to the crowd during an opening ceremony at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County executive pitches $1.66B budget

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced his proposed budget Tuesday afternoon. Public comment is slated to begin Oct. 10.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Jamel Alexander, center, listens as a Snohomish County jury records their verdict of guilty, in the murder of Shawna Brune, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  Alexander was convicted in the first degree murder of Brune. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Appeals court orders new trial in Everett woman’s stomping death

Appellate judges ruled that additional evidence should have been admitted in Jamel Alexander’s trial for the murder of Shawna Brune.

Kristy Carrington, CEO of Providence Swedish of North Puget Sound, speaks during a Healthcare Summit at Everett Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Providence, Optum and Premera discuss challenges at Everett summit

Five panelists spoke on labor shortages, high costs and health care barriers Wednesday at Everett Community College.

Most Read