Rash of car thefts unnerves Anchorage

Seventeen cars were stolen in a single 24-hour period in Anchorage, starting yesterday (Jan. 25) and running through this morning (Jan. 26).

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“Majority of them were cases or scenarios where the motorist had left their key in the ignition running so that it could warm up.”

Jennifer Castro is a spokesperson for the Anchorage Police Department. She says 17 stolen cars is an exceptionally high spike, but part of a phenomenon the department is used to seeing. More cars are stolen when the temperature fluctuates back and forth around freezing. The oscillations cause more frost on vehicles, leading residents to idle them unattended for longer, which Castro says creates an opportunity for theft.

“We actually sent out a similar press release like this around the same time last year.”

Castro says the reports came in from neighborhoods all across Anchorage, and that most thefts involve the short-term use of a car or truck.

“A lot of people ask ‘why are people stealing cars?’ or ‘what are they using them for?’ And a lot of the time it’s for a temporary situation: they just want to use them to get from point A to point B, it’s often that when we do recover these vehicles there’s drug paraphernalia and stuff like that found in them.”

It’s against municipal code to leave a vehicle idling unattended without an auto-start or keyless operating system. Residents who spot unfamiliar vehicles parked along residential streets and cul-de-sacs for long stretches of time to contact police.