Car thefts on the rise in Fairbanks; Troopers offer tips

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Vehicle theft has always been a problem; and with the growing number of posts about it social media, it can seem like there has been a surprising increase.
Rhiannon Walker has more in this report.
Rhiannon Walker; Reporting>>: It seems like every other post on our Facebook pages is about a vehicle theft, and while the Interior hasn't seen the increase that Anchorage has, we did have a significant uptick between 2016 and 2017.
Sgt. Jessie Carson; Alaska State Trooper Special Projects Unit >>: "Between 2016 and 2017 there has been about a 33% increase in vehicle thefts in the city of Fairbanks and the outlying areas. In 2016 we had just under 300 and in 2017 we had just under 400."
Rhiannon Walker; Reporting>>: These increases seem random because they come in spurts, but Sergeant Jess Carson explains that this is for a couple of reasons; repeat offenders being released, and thieves figuring out new ways to bypass the ignition and get into the vehicle. He went on to explain that a big target is vehicles in poorly lit areas and on properties that are not in use. Leaving a vehicle unattended for a significant length of time allows potential offenders time to fiddle with the vehicle and gain access.
Sgt. Jessie Carson>>: "Another thing that we are seeing is just unsecured vehicles, a lot of four wheelers and motorcycles and stuff have been stolen as well and they are just in open areas where people can get to them a lot faster."
Rhiannon Walker; Reporting>>: The fastest way to get results if your vehicle is stolen is to report it as soon as you realize it is gone. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to locate the vehicle. Sgt. Carson also stressed to not go looking for the car yourself and don't take matters into your own hands if you do see a stolen vehicle as it makes it harder for Law Enforcement to do their job.
Rhiannon Walker; Reporting>>: As far as preventing theft, if you plan on leaving your car somewhere for a significant length of time, have someone you trust check on it frequently. Make sure it is secured and do not leave important things in it, especially spare keys or anything that can allow a potential offender to make a copy of the key. According to Sgt. Carson, a car alarm system is the number one deterrent when it comes to car thefts.
Sgt. Jessie Carson>>: "If you have alarm systems, those are very, very key. We see almost no vehicles with active alarm systems having been stolen, so they are obviously working because we just don't get the reports of it."
Rhiannon Walker; Reporting>>: When you report your vehicle stolen, a recent picture is the best way to make sure your car or truck is identified. Sgt. Carson explained that while a detailed description is good, a picture to have in mind makes spotting a potential stolen vehicle at highway speeds, much easier than having to try and see the plate number.
Sgt. Carson spoke briefly about the "Special Projects Unit", stating the officers involved have a very high success rate in locating vehicles during their investigation.
Sgt. Jessie Carson>>: "If we have a tip or a lead, we have a Special Projects Unit with the Alaska State Troopers we started approximately two years ago and their whole job, they've got two hand-picked officers who go and look into property crimes such as stolen vehicles"
Rhiannon Walker; Reporting>>: It is important to keep in mind that the best way to help Law Enforcement do their job, is to step back and act as an extra set of eyes. If you know your neighbor will be out of town, keep an eye on their property and call AST or FPD if you feel something is wrong. This is Rhiannon Walker reporting.