Man has car stolen, returned; and then second car stolen, too

SEATTLE -- The odds are in the favor of the victims: About 3,000 cars are stolen each year in Seattle, but about 86 percent are returned.

Al Vetrovs has had a 50 percent return rate - in just the past two weeks.

"We sort of purposely have old cars that we think won't get stolen," he said, chuckling, "but of course, they do."

Vetrovs' pickup truck - a 1993 Nissan - was the first car stolen from in front of his Greenwood home sometime late in the night Wednesday, June 18th, or early in the morning Thursday, June 19th. His wife was the first to notice it missing.

"She said, 'Where is your truck?'" he recalled, "and I was like, 'What do you mean?'"

The Vetrovs spent four days without the vehicle, until it was recovered about three miles away at 4450 Winslow Place in Fremont. Police found everything intact, Vetrovs said, but because the truck had been left in front of a fire hydrant, it was towed to a North Seattle tow lot.

Vetrovs had to pay $170 to get it back.

The truck sat in front of the Vetrovs' North Seattle home - near Phinney Avenue and 90th Street - for five days.

On Friday morning, the Vetrovs' car count once again dropped from three - to two.

"I turned around, walking on my way back in, and I noticed the Subaru's gone," Vetrovs said, laughing, "so I don't know if it's dumb luck or we're somehow being targeted."

Gone was Vetrovs' 1992 silver Subaru Loyale station wagon, stolen - like the truck - from in front of the house.

"I just couldn't believe it. It's, like, two within essentially a week," he said. "I'm happy we get our other vehicle back but now we're sort of in the same position."

Older model Hondas and Subarus are among the most popular stolen cars, said Officer Drew Fowler with the Seattle Police Department. Outdated technology makes it easier for thieves to both break into the car and to start it, he said.

Prosecution of car thieves is also difficult, he added.

"We can't always necessarily prove who, in fact, stole the vehicle. What we can prove is that person is in possession of a stolen vehicle," Fowler said.

"It's difficult to pursue a stolen car if we don't have clues on where it's going to be," he added, "which generally doesn't happen until it is recovered."

Most stolen cars are recovered between three and seven days of being stolen, he added.

So far, Vetrovs has waited five days for his Subaru.

"It seems like the thieves win in this case. They don't get punished if they get caught. We have to deal with our vehicles being stolen," he said. "The police don't have the tools that they need to maybe go after these criminals and find your vehicle."

"It's frustrating," he added. "It seems like we, as citizens, are kind of powerless."