Vehicle-related crimes spike in Colville
Incidents of vehicle prowling and other crimes hit a high in February for Colville, according to City of Colville Police Chief Bob Meshishnek. There were 13 confirmed vehicle prowls, 16 cases of shoplifting, one fuel theft and 13 residential thefts (perpetrators gaining access to open garage doors and sheds). “In a normal month, we’d have an average of 30 calls regarding theft of any kind,” explains Meshishnek. “In February, we had over 50 calls.” Meshishnek says he does not know what the increase in vehicle-related thefts is attributed to, but he did say that in all the cases, the vehicles had been left unlocked. “The reported incidents were spread out over town and weren’t specific to one area within the city,” says Meshishnek. “I don’t think these rates are the highest they’ve ever been for Colville, but it’s getting high enough to concern us.” In comparison county-wide, from Feb. 1 to Feb. 28, the Stevens County Sheriff’s Dispatch received 22 calls regarding theft (including property and vehicle related incidents). A bill approved by the State Senate is taking aim at an increasing number of property crimes in Washington. Everett Sen. Nick Harper says a spike in vehicle prowls in both Grays Harbor and Pacific County has prompted him to sponsor Senate Bill 5053, which would change the penalty for car prowling from a gross misdemeanor to a Class C felony for anyone convicted of vehicle prowling for a third time. “While more retributive punishments aren’t necessarily always effective to reduce crime rates, certainty is shown to be an effective deterrent. So that certainty of having a felony conviction on one’s record, we hope, is a substantial step toward trying to reduce these rates in our communities,” says Sen. Harper. For the month of March, Meshishnek says the police department has responded to continuous calls for vehicle prowling. “I’d say that for March, we’re even with what we were at in February,” says Meshishnek. Meshishnek advises people to lock their vehicles and homes. Colville Tribal Police made an arrest earlier in the month of two juveniles who had stolen a car from Colville, but the majority of the vehicle prowling cases still remain open. “These crimes are crimes of opportunity and by simply securing your cars and not leaving valuables visible inside, you greatly reduce the possibility of becoming a victim,” says Meshishnek. “We have to pay attention and look out for each other.” To report crime tips in Colville, contact the Colville Police Department at 684-2525.