CRIME TRACKER: Yakima car thefts drop by nearly half

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Huge strides are made towards Yakima's chronic stolen car problem. The KIMA Crime Tracker found out the number of cars reported stolen last year dropped by almost half in the city.

Marci Quiroz had her car stolen just two weeks ago. It left her with no easy way to take her three kids to school.

"It was tough because it was cold," said Quiroz.

Yakima's problem with stolen cars is well known. YPD is working to change that. Believe it or not, things are getting better. Last year, YPD dealt with about 600 stolen car cases. The number was practically double that in 2012.

Police say they're getting smarter by keeping tabs on the top car thieves in the area.

"Where they live and what they're driving and what they're doing, and providing that information to patrol, which is helping address the problem more proactively versus reactively," said Capt. Rod Light, Yakima Police spokesperson.

Police say many of the thieves are repeat offenders. Now, detectives make it a point to visit their homes periodically.

"Just to remind these guys that you know what, we're here," said Light. "We know who you are. We're not going to forget you. And, if you commit crime, we're going to be there to put you in jail."

Especially in these cold months, YPD reminds people that leaving your car running unattended to heat up makes it an easy target for car thieves. That was the mistake Marci made.

"As soon as I came out it was gone," said Quiroz.

In the end, she got lucky when police found her car a week later near White Pass. And, there are signs for everyone else that Yakima's chronic problem is finally getting better.

Police say they are following car thieves closer because they don't spend a lot of time in prison. A first time offender can get back on the street in about a week.