Police Warn to Protect Yourself From Easy Car Thefts - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Police Warn to Protect Yourself From Easy Car Thefts

KENNEWICK, Wash.- Hundreds of cars are stolen in the Tri-Cities each year, and after a woman's car was snatched with the keys in it Tuesday night, police are warning you to look out.

When Sandra Persinger walked to her car after work Tuesday night, it wasn't there.  She called police, and around 3:45 Wednesday Morning, awoke to police telling her they'd found the car.

"It was awesome, I was actually dreaming about it and then they called," Persinger said.

Police say around 75% of stolen vehicles end up being recovered, but often, they've been stripped or aren't drivable anymore.

"When we see an Escalade or some of these escorts, or Acuras stolen, you know, within hours we can find a stripped hull, and it's absolutely incredible, they're not amateurs.  That thing was ripped apart, they were carefully unbolted, and systematically, you know, taken apart for the parts," said Kennewick Police Sergeant Ken Lattin.

That's exactly the case for Persinger.

"Come down like that, cut all the wires, tore out there," she said. 

Persinger left the keys in the ignition and the car unlocked.

"You'd hate to have to call your insurance agent and say, 'Yeah, my car got stolen, and yes I did leave my keys in it, or I left it running, and somebody stole it.  I mean that's a little embarrassing and in some cases, possibly, the insurance companies may not pay you a claim on that loss," Lattin said. 

Often, people think their cars are safe in certain spots.

"It can happen any place at any time.  If you thin that it's not going to happen to you, then go ahead and leave your keys in your car, and find out that somebody will steal it," he said. 

Crime Stoppers has started a new campaign to try and find stolen cars.  In the three months since its launch, they've had 43 cars stolen, 33 of those were returned.

They hope the website can help raise that number and speed up the time it takes to find them.