Vehicle prowls took a quick jump in July after multiple incidents at the Kent Valley Ice Centre and Amazon Fulfillment Center parking lots.
“It’s unique to us,” said Lexi Doner, owner of the ice rink, in a recent phone interview. “We’ve been here 20 years and we have the occasional issue with a smashed window. But they hit us twice in one week and it was multiple cars.”
Mayor Dana Ralph met with Doner last month after hearing about the vehicle prowls at Kent Valley Ice Centre, 6015 S. 240th St. The city owns the property occupied by the arena next to Hogan Park at Russell Road. The property and parking were obtained on a 40-to 50-year lease from the city that includes providing the city’s Parks, Recreation & Community Services Department two hours per weekday for instructional use.
“It was very productive,” said Doner about the meeting that included Police Chief Rafael Padilla. “I appreciate that they took the time. We talked about how to increase awareness and other actions to take.”
Police have increased the number of times they drive through the arena parking lot, Doner said.
“Part of the solution is to work together,” Doner said. “We walk out to check the parking lots and we have cameras to monitor the lots.”
Doner turned over video from the incidents to police. He said the suspects arrived in as many as three vehicles and quickly broke into cars in what he described as a very organized incident after watching video of the prowls.
The ice centre had eight vehicles prowled on July 18, according to police. Amazon’s parking lot, near South 212th Street and 64th Avenue South just north of the ice centre, had 37 vehicles prowled on July 8.
“I heard about Amazon and other incidents in Auburn and up north in the Lynnwood area,” Doner said. “It’s all over.”
Police are looking for suspects.
“When there is evidence such as video, suspect vehicle description, suspect vehicle plates or other tangible leads, those leads are being investigated,” said Assistant Police Chief Jarod Kasner in an email.
In some cases, thieves are looking for vehicle registrations and taking garage door openers, Kasner said.
“Some victims have reported these items missing as well as other items they had in their vehicles,” Kasner said.
A suspect could use registrations to find a home address and then use the garage door opener to get in. But Kasner said police have not identified a correlation or seen a rapid rise in home burglaries as result of the recent thefts.
“We would like to take this opportunity to remind our community that best way to avoid being a victim of a vehicle prowl, is to never leave items of value inside your car,” Kasner said. “Vehicle prowls are not an uncommon occurrence in our region and leaving something as small as change on your console, can entice someone to prowl your car.”
Doner said as many as 1,000 visitors a week come to the ice centre. He hopes the extra police patrols and public awareness about the vehicle prowls keeps thieves away.
“It’s atypical for us,” Doner said. “This is a pretty quiet place. These particular incidents were very unusual. We have not seen anybody since.”