Cops too slow to stop car prowlers

While I'm glad to see Magnolia resident (and King County Prosecutor) Norm Maleng trying to do something about sentences for car prowls ('Cracking down on car theft,' Aug. 17), a big part of the problem is our own police farce. I personally witnessed two separate car prowls on our street this year. The police response time was one hour the first time and 45 minutes the second. (I guess the second time they must have decided to get their butts in gear.) That was for hot leads on crimes that were in progress.

One of the officers who responded to one of the car prowls told me that car prowls have increased significantly in Magnolia over the past couple of months, which your newspaper confirms - prowling being step one to stealing. He then said that the police had not been able to get a handle on the problem. Is that any wonder, when it takes them an hour to respond to a crime in progress when they're given a hot lead?

When the police arrived for the second attempted vehicle break-in, I pointed out the victimized van and told the officer that the locks had been forced and damaged with a screw driver, and that the paint had been damaged. The officer said "thanks," rolled up his window and quickly drove off, not even appearing to search the street as he went. I continued to watch the neighborhood but did not see the police even come back to look the vehicle over.

You'd think, with a hot lead on an escalating problem, the police would arrive in a few minutes and maybe even be clever enough to approach the street from both ends, get out of their cars and walk the street quietly so they could actually apprehend someone in the act.

Earlier this year, a building I manage in Magnolia had three attempted break-ins in six weeks. Each time I called the police, the response time was about half an hour. (What appeared to save the building was the audible alarm, not the police.) That's five crimes witnessed by one person in one neighborhood in the space of one year, and for each crime the response time was so slow there wasn't a ghost of a chance the police would catch anyone.

With the responses that I've personally witnessed five times this year, Maleng's stiffer sentences aren't going to do much good. No one will ever see a judge to get the sentence. With an average response time of 40 minutes (by my experience) for crimes in progress, what can the police hope to accomplish, especially when once they do arrive they stay in their cars the whole time?

Maleng says the biggest problem is repeat offenders. Is it any wonder? In Magnolia, you can repeat your crime four times in one evening then go have a latte and greet the police as they exit the local coffee shop on their way to your first crime scene.

David Haggith

Magnolia[[In-content Ad]]