An effort by Seattle police to reduce the thousands of break-ins of parked cars that are reported each year has yet to reach its goal, but one police official said it has greatly improved public awareness, leading citizens to take precautions to prevent break-ins from occurring.
The Police Departmentís Community Policing Bureau started the Car Prowl Task Force, which includes members from the public and private sectors as well as police and other city agencies, in April 1996 to address a nagging problem of car break-ins and thefts of personal property from vehicles.
Last year, about 19,000 incidents were reported to police, with damage estimated at $8.2 million, or about $850 per incident. The crimes are as difficult to solve as they are numerous; clearance rates in Seattle have ranged from 2.2 percent to 3 percent over the past five years.
Officer James Koutsky, a 10-year veteran assigned to the Community Policing Bureau, said the task force marks one of the first times the SPD has taken a department-wide as well as citywide problem-solving approach to a crime problem.