Stolen car parts on the rise

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima was proud to boast a drop in stolen cars, but now the number of people stealing car parts is on the rise. Action News looked at why this could be happening.

As the number of stolen car parts keeps rising, it seems everyone knows someone who's been a victim.

"Today one of our friends called and said that her son's pickup had been broken into in his own yard while he was mowing the lawn," said George Hawes, a resident of Yakima County.

The Yakima Police Department reports the number of car parts being stolen has more than doubled these past three years.

"We have relatives that live in East Valley and her car had been broken into a number of times and been stripped, so no, I'm not surprised," Hawes said.

In 2012, 38 stolen car parts were reported. That number doubled the next year. As for this year, there have already been 52 incidents of car parts being stolen. At this pace, it would be nearly 100 by the end of the year.

"We had a whole flurry of them not long ago that they were taking the car and going just a few blocks and pulling the stereo out and that was it," said Lieutenant Nolan Wentz of the Yakima Police Department.

Stereos are said to be one of the main targeted components. Federal statistics show the other top stolen parts are engines, transmissions, air bags and any personal items of value left behind. On Tuesday, Yakima Police were even called because someone's tail lights had gone missing.

"I thought, 'wow, I haven't seen that one for quite some time,'" Lt. Wentz said. "He was just parked outside and comes out and here they are, bare wires left dangling where they were."

It's important to know how secure each personal car model is. For example, it could be risky to keep valuable items in the trunk if it can be opened through a cable release system.

Police admit, it's possible there aren't necessarily more stolen car parts, but rather people just reporting it more. It's recommended to always keep a record of items' serial numbers to help prove ownership if they were stolen. It can be done pretty easily by just taking pictures of the serial numbers or bar codes on the items.