Continuing a trend, car thefts in Bellevue dropped by 38 percent in 2008. With an aggressive, plain-clothes team targeting auto thieves, Bellevue Police reduced car theft cases from 446 in 2007 to 274 last year.
Car thefts in Bellevue decreased for a fifth straight year, from a high of 607 in 2004. The Special Enforcement Team, which includes plain-clothes detectives and officers ordered to focus on whatever the city's biggest crime problem is at the time, was formed in 2003.
With rates of other crimes relatively low in Bellevue, auto theft is a frequent target for the SET. The most commonly stolen cars in Bellevue are older Honda Accords, Toyota Camrys and late-model Ford trucks.
Working closely with neighboring cities and the County Prosecutor to build cases against repeat offenders, the Special Enforcement Team made more than 130 arrests last year, more than 90 percent of which were felonies. Most of those arrested were car thieves.
The 20-plus top offenders convicted in 2008 were sentenced to nearly 70 years in prison combined. More than 40 stolen vehicles were recovered, worth more than $350,000 combined.
The unit turned its attention to other property theft in January, and following a SET investigation, Bellevue Police raided a house north of downtown on Jan. 29, and seized stolen video game systems, laptop computers, oxycodone pills, cocaine, marijuana, a firearm and nearly $7,000 in cash.
Five people were arrested on felony charges in connection with the raid, on the 10300 block of Northeast 28th Place, and the investigation is growing.
SET functions as a proactive unit, conducting surveillance and actively seeking out suspects wherever they go. The team will travel beyond the city limits to pursue a case.
While police and prosecutors can put a dent in car thefts and prowls as well as burglaries, residents can protect themselves against these crimes with these precautions:
- Don't leave anything in your car. Assume it will be stolen if you do.
- Lock the doors and windows on your home and cars, and use all alarms consistently.
- Keep large amounts of cash or jewelry at the bank, not in your home.
- Record serial numbers of high-value items, to help identify them if they are stolen.
- High theft items are laptops, iPods, GPS units, jewelry and cash.
- If you own a commonly stolen model of vehicle, consider anti-theft devices such as The Club, tracker-locators such as LoJack or an alarm system.
- Make sure you have adequate insurance to minimize any losses.
Return to News Release Index