In September, U.P. Police Chief Mike Blair introduced to the City Council the City’s new dedicated crimes investigator, Deputy Josh Mills. At the time, Mills told the Council that in his new position, he would be able to pursue cases that might have gone by the wayside because of staffing limitations. “But now we can hold people accountable so that bad guys know that U.P. isn’t the place to play around,” Mills said at the time.
He fulfilled that promise last week when he displayed gift cards totaling more than $14,000 that had been purchased with credit cards stolen from just two cars at Chambers Bay Regional Park.
Mills explained that the car prowlers broke car windows and took whatever they could easily grab—usually purses, wallets, etc. They used stolen credit cards to purchase gift cards, usually in amounts of $100 to $200. Mills says that it probably took the thieves less than 30 minutes to complete their crime spree, especially since they used the stolen cards to purchase the gift cards from local stores.
But thanks to cell phone video shot by an eye witness in the Chambers Bay parking lot, Mills and officers from the U.P. Police Department were waiting for the suspects when they returned to Chambers Bay to find more victims.
“We say it again and again, but it always bears repeating: never leave valuable items in clear view in your car, especially in public places like parks and trails where you will be gone for a while,” said Chief Blair. “If you plan to leave your car for a walk or a run be sure to safely secure purses and wallets, prior to leaving your home for the parks or trails so thieves cannot spy on you and watch where you hide items in your car.”
Blair also says it is important to evaluate places in your car that are harder to “smash and grab.” Some of the first places thieves will look are under the seats, in the glove box and the center console. “Bring what is minimally necessary and hide those minimal items shrewdly before leaving home – every time,” Blair added. “Take a few minutes today to inventory the items you leave consistently in your vehicle and remove any items of value every time you leave your vehicle.”
Both Blair and Mills expressed their gratitude to the citizen who caught and shared the video of the thieves in action. That video provided the license plate number of the suspects’ vehicle, which made tracing their steps much easier.
“This case exemplifies the best and worst of society: an alert resident who took the time to act and thieves who prey on easy targets,” Mills said. “But hopefully we’ve sent another message that U.P. is watching. We don’t mess around.”