One of Yakima's most chronic crimes on the decline

One of Yakima's most chronic crimes on the decline »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash.-- Yakima's chronic problem with stolen cars might be getting better. Police started a new strategy about a year ago.

Loren Mott remembers waking up in the middle of the night and feeling he had to check his car.

"As soon as I looked out, my truck wasn't there and I didn't know what to think," Mott said.

It's something he knew was possible. It had happened to his friends and Yakima has a reputation; a reputation police have been trying to change with a a different approach.

"We know who the top ten car thieves are in the valley," YPD Captain Rod Light said. "We know who they are and we have them identified."

That information is sent to patrol officers on the street. They got special attention and YPD says most of them are in jail. It seems to be working. In August, there were 39 cars reported stolen in Yakima. That's down more than 60% in a year. June and July were also lower than last year.

"The fact that it just went down so much this month is pretty crazy," Mott said.

Of course, they are still happening and, there are three main hot spots. Police say they typically stay the same in neighborhoods where the crooks live.

"If they move then we'll see a trend move," Captain Light said.

Police warn the decline could only be temporary. The top car thieves won't be in jail forever and could go back to their old ways when they're released.

"They need to go to prison, you know, for many years," Light said. "Unfortunately, that isn't how the system is set up right now."

Officers are now gearing up for some of the thieves to be back on the streets and, watch them the best that they can.

YPD also warns that car theft can also spike in winter when people steal cars to stay warm. Always remember to lock your doors.