ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) Vehicle thefts are on the rise in Anchorage nearly doubling in 2016 from 1,225 in 2015 to 2,117 last year.
On Sunday, 19 vehicles were stolen and 12 more were stolen on Monday but most thefts were preventable, according to police. This week’s bitter forecast has police warning people to avoid being a victim by steering clear of leaving the vehicle running, unlocked and with the keys in it.
“Vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity and people steal vehicles and steal vehicles very quickly,” said Renee Oistad, spokesperson for the Anchorage Police Department.
Vanessa Kitchen says her white 2010 Ford F-150 King Ranch truck was stolen in front of Play it Again Sports and her 11-year-old son was in the truck at the time. She left him inside the vehicle with it unlocked and running while she ran inside to grab his snowboard.
“I turned around to walk out and my son came running in saying the truck was being stolen and he jumped out,” said Kitchen.
Her son was alright but both are shaken. Kitchen posted her story and vehicle description on Facebook in an effort to track down the truck and encourage people to learn from her mistake.
“I knew that I was transparent in what I was saying and opened myself up to being very vulnerable,” said Kitchen. “But the point is it did happen, I did do it. I didn't mean for it, I didn't want for it to happen but I did leave my car unlocked and my kid inside of it. We're okay, everything is okay, I just want my truck back.”
Kitchen’s personal belongings and phone were recovered later and she filed a police report. Kitchen says if the truck is not found within 30 days she will begin the process of working with her insurance company on a claim.
However, if vehicles are stolen while unlocked and running with the keys inside, not all insurance companies will cover the claim.
Additionally, it’s illegal in Anchorage to leave a vehicle running and unlocked with the keys inside.