In the aftermath of the second murder recorded in Sammamish since the city incorporated in 1999, police are stepping up patrols to combat the issue that was at the heart of the recent homicide.
Following the death of 22-year-old Klahanie resident Mo Radcliffe, who was killed in a hit-and-run after confronting car prowlers on Jan. 25 at Beaver Lake Park, Sgt. Peter Horvath with the King County Sheriff’s Office said police are increasing their visibility at local parks and locations that have been targeted as hot spots for car prowls.
Horvath acknowledged that car prowls have been an ongoing issue not only in Sammamish, but throughout the Seattle area and the Eastside.
“[Car prowls] are occurring in Marymoor Park frequently, they’re occurring in the city of Issaquah. The individuals that were arrested out of this incident here in Sammamish were also associated to similar crimes happening on Mercer Island and in Seattle,” Horvath said. “We’re not dealing with just one group of kids, because mostly these are minors. These groups talk to each other and spread the word where their ‘fishing holes’ are and what’s been successful for them. My detectives have actually investigated, charged and arrested several groups from around the Auburn-Kent area that are coming up here to do these crimes.”
Any location where people park their cars for an extended period of time are typical car-prowl hot spots, Horvath said. They’ve occurred in residents’ driveways and on the street in front of their home.
“[They happen] anywhere someone parks their car and potentially leaves their belongings on the seat,” Horvath said. “The would-be car prowler comes along, looks inside and sees a purse, sees a computer or sees whatever. I can say we’ve had an expensive remote-control air vehicle that was stolen out of a car because it was left there. It’s a crime of opportunity and it happens 24/7.”
While police are stepping up their efforts at local parks, they are also encouraging residents to be proactive toward combating car prowls by making themselves less of a target. Horvath advises residents to leave nothing in their unattended vehicles, not even a phone charger.
“We strongly urge people not to make themselves a victim or a potential victim by stowing everything before you reach your destination,” Horvath said. “We’ve had suspects sitting in parking lots watching people arrive, stow a purse in their trunk or hide a purse under their seat, get out and walk away and then their car is broken into.”
Other suggestions for combating car prowls include parking in well-lit, less secluded areas when possible. Horvath also suggested residents be vigilant of suspicious people or circumstances.
“When you arrive at the park, look around for people that are sitting in their cars or people that are walking up to several different cars and looking into door windows and call 911,” he said.