"It's kind of an underground taxi service:" Anchorage police talk about an increase in vehicle thefts

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Vehicle thefts in Anchorage have increased tremendously, according to the Anchorage Police department.

"In this case with stolen vehicles, it's been above the average for quite some time for a few months," Captain Bill Miller with APD said.

Police say they recover 92 percent of stolen cars or trucks, which are usually found abandoned.

"The biggest thing about stolen vehicles is it still remains a crime of opportunity which is one of the things that makes it so hard for police to kind of interrupt, because a large part of the responsibility for stopping this crime rests with the person who owns the car," Miller said.

According to Miller, the damages to the car usually amounts to a few hundred dollars.

Police didn't have a breakdown for the number of vehicles stolen with the keys in the ignition versus vehicles that were broken into by either smashing a window and hot wiring the engine.

It happens across the city, with no neighborhood being spared.

"You can't say, 'well I live in a good neighborhood and it's not going to happen to here' because it does," Miller said.

Police say it usually takes about nine days to find the vehicle and by then it's often abandoned, which is why it's difficult to find someone to arrest. Miller says often people steal the vehicles on their way to commit other crimes or buy drugs.

"It's kind of an underground taxi service that people have learned to rely," Miller said.

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