Yakima has highest car theft rate in the state

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Car theft has been a chronic issue in Yakima and it's not getting better. Nearly 1,700 cars were stolen last year. That number is the third worst in the state.

You're likely to find Zarrio Gutierrez walking down the sidewalk. His car was stolen two years ago and he hasn't had one since.

"It was my only way of transportation from home to work and without a car, I lived a ton away from where my job was, so it's not like I could walk to work," said Zarrio.

He tried having a friend take him to work. When that failed, he paid the price.

"I ended up losing my job because I didn't have a car to get back to work," said Zarrio.

Zarrio is far from alone in this. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the number of cars stolen here in Yakima jumped almost 30 percent last year. There's been an increase over the last three years. About five cars are swiped every day in Yakima.

For its population, Yakima's problem is the worst in the state although more cars are stolen in the Spokane and Seattle areas.

There are some common mistakes people make that make it easier for someone to steal your car. So remember, don't leave your keys in the car, park where there's plenty of light, and lock the doors.

"If you can make your car less of a target, they'll move on to something else," NW Insurance Council President Karl Newman.

Common sense reminders that are still no guarantee. Yakima and Spokane are the only two cities outside California in the top ten for stolen cars based on population.