SPOKANE, Wash. – Vehicle prowling and thefts continue to be a serious problem in downtown Spokane. Now, police say they are noticing another alarming trend.
More and more victims are reporting that not only are thieves stealing items like speakers and GPS systems, they are also making off with people's insurance cards and vehicle registration.
One of the first places a thief checks in the car is the glove box. Unfortunately, that is where most people keep their insurance card and vehicle registration.
Instead, the Spokane Community Oriented Police Services recommends keeping this information locked out of sight in the trunk or hidden underneath the floor mats. Even better, they suggest hiding it underneath the spare tire in the trunk.
However, if someone has done this and gets pulled over by police, there are some things to know.
"If you are stopped by law enforcement, do not be rummaging around looking in all the dark places for your things, because that will make the officer suspicious," said Spokane Community Oriented Police Services Crime Advocate Cindy Shackelford. "Just sit there calmly and wait for the officer."
First, explain to the officer that you are concerned about identity theft and have moved your information. Next, ask if they want to retrieve it or if they want you to find it. As long as you explain the situation, you should not have any issues.
However, if you have not hidden your information and it does get stolen out of the car, there are a few things thieves can do with it.
First, criminals may try to break into a car that is similar to one they have already stolen. That way, if the stolen car is pulled over, they will have registration information to match the vehicle.
Cindy also says she has heard of a few case where the thief will take the vehicle registration to a dealership. At the dealership, the criminal pretends they lost their car key in the hopes of getting a new one, so they can come back later to steal your car.
Finally, the insurance and registration information could be used to steal your identity.
"Marriage licenses have everything about you, there are public records, so anything you have ever done like that is online somewhere in a database," Cindy said. "If someone is industrious enough, they have a few pieces of information about you, so they can certainly go online and find the other pieces they need to steal more of your identity."
Another tip we learned, do not even leave spare change visible in your vehicle. Cindy says thieves think that if you have left spare change lying around, you have probably been careless with something else more valuable.