Stolen cars still big problem in Yakima - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Stolen cars still big problem in Yakima

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Yakima, WASH-- It's no secret that Yakima is a hot spot for stolen vehicles.

Police said the number of cases has slightly decreased recently, but still remains high. In the past three months, there have been 285 reported stolen vehicles. That's 33 fewer reports than there were for the months of February, March and April.

Lieutenant Mike Merryman of the Yakima Police Department said, "The message really is for anyone that has their vehicle or they're shopping or parking overnight, make sure the vehicle is locked in as safe a location as you can."

Madeline White's vehicle was stolen nearly one week ago, and not long before that she celebrated her 16th birthday.

"Saving up for my car, I worked all through Christmas season, every day on Christmas break to save up the money for it," said White. "I saved up about $1,100, and then I got my car. It's not the prettiest car ever, but I liked it."

White said she was sleeping at a friend's house on 13th Avenue near McKinley the night her car was stolen.

"It feels like very violating, like how could somebody do that to me," said White.

"I've heard of it happening," said Kelly White, the mother of Madeline White. "I know, actually after this happened to us we've heard of just about everyone we've known that's had a car stolen."

Police said they are able to recover more than half of the stolen cars, but it's not easy.

"It's not an easy task," said Merryman. "Many times we find the cars frankly located in another part of town. They drove the cars, the bad guys, for two or three days committing who knows what type of crime, and then they dump the car."

Police said part of the problem is that these criminals don't spend enough time in jail.

They said it's like a revolving door. Around 15 auto thieves tend to keep YPD constantly busy.