Recurrent car vandalism/theft

My family and I have lived near Garfield for 2+ years.  We’ve lived in other parts of the CD for 20+ years.

We’ve always had random car vandalism and break-ins–broken antennas; several break-ins to steal loose change out of our glove box; car stolen once but recovered (stripped, of course).  This all occurred in a different neighborhood, which was much less residential (Pike/Pine)–therefore, the vandalism was easier to chalk up to transient visitors to the neighborhood, out for a “good time” of drink and property destruction.  (The car theft was a different matter–we thought it was most likely someone from a neighboring house that was full of sketchy characters).  Our car wasn’t isolated for the damage or break-ins–when it happened in that neighborhood, we’d notice other cars had also been vandalized/broken into.

Now, we live in a neighborhood which is residential.  Granted, it does seem to be a through-way for people dealing at 23rd and Cherry, headed south of Yesler and vice versa.  We’ve also had an issue with one of our neighbors (which I will not go into here).  That incident occurred almost two years ago.

Since moving in, we’ve had our car repeatedly scratched.  And when I say scratched, I mean deep gouges where they run some tool (keys, screwdriver?) down the length of our car.  My husband has sanded and painted countless times in order to hold off the rust.  On several occasions, he’s walked up and down the street to see if other neighbors’ cars have been scratched.  Our car seems to be the target, as no one else has problems.  The gouges are getting deeper–my husband just reported some to me yesterday morning, and he feels that whoever is doing it is getting bolder.

Last night, our car was broken into.  They stole our (very old) battery charger and a new package of Costco toilet paper (!?)  They probably also tried to steal our new car battery, but were interrupted and didn’t complete the job.

I’m not sure if these are even related incidents.  But I’m wondering if anyone else in the south of Cherry/north of Yesler/east of 23rd/west of MLK area has had recurrent problems with car vandalism and theft.  I feel kind of stupid even asking, as it seems to be a part of city life.  However, we feel kind of targeted and are looking for reassurance that this isn’t the case.

I’m reporting these incidents to the SPD.

If this has been a problem for you, what have you found helpful in deterring it?  I say hello to everyone who walks by, am friendly with the neighbors, etc etc.  Our block does not have a block watch, but that seems like it would be of little help.

My husband is keen to get one of those home monitoring camera systems so that he can try to catch the suspect(s) in the act.  I feel like it’s a waste of money, but I’m also concerned about continued theft and possible escalation to home break-ins.  We have young kids, and worry for their safety.

Thanks for any input.

12 thoughts on “Recurrent car vandalism/theft

  1. Listen to your husband and get a camera. It seems like a bigger waste of money to keep fixing a scratched car. PS… I live less than a block from Garfield (10+ years) and have never had that type of issue. We get a lot a foot traffic on our street too.

  2. We live in a more residential area further south on Norman, and other than one neighbor getting his car lightly dented (accident but no note) and another neighbor having his car broken into and his GPS system stolen, I know of no other incidents. We all park on the street and there are known drug dealers in all directions (keep to themselves, don’t cause any trouble). I would guess that you are being specifically targeted – once is random, more than once, not so much. I would get the camera system (they’re not prohibitively expensive) as it will also act as a deterrent. Sorry this is happening, what a terrible feeling. We installed a home alarm system because we just didn’t want to take any chances.

  3. Sounds like a good idea to get a camera. You may have done this but talk to your neighbors if you haven’t already. Let them know what is happening as they may have some idea or seen someone at some point. It could just be you have a #@^($ neighbor. Maybe the neighbor you had an issue with or maybe someone is upset about something you don’t even know about. When you speak to them, make sure you mention this is being reported to the police and they should see a greater police presence on the block. If you are experiencing this much vandalism, it must be targeted and probably from someone near you.

  4. Thanks for the feedback. We are probably going to get a camera and a motion-activated light (we already have one in our backyard). We do have a security system–put that in as soon as we moved into our house.

    Bummer–I was hoping everyone would say it happens to them all the time! It makes me much more suspicious of our neighbor (who we had the issue with; this person smiles, chats with us often and acts like it’s water under the bridge).

    I’ve been planning on talking to the rest of our neighbors who live near us. I’ll do that today. Thanks!

  5. I have lived in my house near Garfield for just over 13 years, I don’t leave anything in my car and rarely lock the doors ( nothing to steal). I have had 1 break in where they pull everything out of the glovebox and middle counsel ,… in the last 13 years until the last month. It has happened 6 times in the last month. I have started to lock the doors when I remember, but if I don’t it is almost a sure thing that someone will rifle through. I am trying to figure out what has changed in the last month, but I have yet to put it together.

  6. if it’s a repeated issue, why not put a camera in the car? Catch em in the act and then hand the tape over to police?

  7. …had any car vandalism issues. We live in this area and the most I’ve experienced is empty Bud cans in the back of my truck (loud partyers/passers-by is a separate annoyance).

  8. I second BK’s recommendation to talk to the neighbor and mention that it is being reported to the police. I once had a neighbor vandalizing my motorcycle because they didn’t like where I parked it. I worked through my landlord to make sure they knew that I knew it was them. The vandalism stopped cold turkey before I had the chance to resort to cameras or anything else. Well, almost anything else. I can’t say how that herbicide made its way onto their privacy hedge. But, once they knew that they were found out, they quit. The camera would still be a good idea. I’m betting that you’ll get a lot of use out of it even once you stop this episode.

  9. I would be cautious with this type of suggestion. A camera on one’s own property of one’s own property turned over to the police would probably be fine. The use of herbicide can have unintended consequences and hut other plants and insects that contribute to pollination. It depends on the neighbor how easy it to talk to them. If you have regular conversations with them, you could mention that you are having this problem and have reported it to the police. Most of us will have live with our neighbors for a very long time and direct confrontations that have accusatory tones usually are not helpful.

  10. I’ve had a few incidents and I live in the neighborhood you describe. Rifling through the car is one example, but our biggest battle has been with someone taking out our Christmas Lights- probably a non-believer! I’ve continued to put the lights up and somebody has continued to knife them down, becoming bolder about it with each episode. For me, it’s just a few strings of cheap lights and the loss isn’t so costly, but there is that feeling of having your space infringed on and with a kid, that’s something worth worrying more about.

    Sorry to hear about your trouble. I hope your camera idea works, but I don’t think it will- especially if the perp is moving quickly or at all obscured. Talking with the neighbors sounds like a good practice regardless.

  11. Cameras work great. A new neighbor was the target of another neigbor that kept puncturing his tires. He asked me if it was a problem generally, and I said not. He kept wanting to believe it was transients or people passing through. I told him it must be somebody close. He put up cameras and was immediately able to identify the man that lived in the same apartment building as the victim. That man was then evicted.

    I solved a similar problem by listening to my dog. There was a kid with a few screws loose living in these same apartments. I had my care antenna removed, a shovel stolen, and two tires punctured over about two weeks. My dog barked at 0200 hours and I went outside to see what new mischief was up. I found the screwball in my driveway, with my shovel. I blocked his path and he swung the shovel, so, I took him to the ground and held him until the police came.

    I’m not sure what he did or said to police while I was being interviewed, but, he spent 2 weeks in county jail and was then transferred to Western State Hospital. I testified at some sort of hearing at the hospital and never say him again.

    So – listen to your dog. Get one if you haven’t already. And get the camera’s. There is definately a neighbor that is crazy and want’s to take it out on you. They want your attention and will escalate to greater violence until you react.

  12. If you talk to the neigbhor, they smile, etc. Why not tell them what’s going on without blaming but just as an FYI to them, and during that conversation let them know that you have heavy surveillance installed in not so obvious places. I bet the trend will stop by just doing that.