Tight budgets mean no security cameras at some Park and Ride lots

BOTHELL, Wash. - Tens of thousands of drivers park their cars for the eight to ten hours they're away at work in Park and Ride transit lots around Puget Sound.

Unfortunately, car thieves know that too.

Authorities use many techniques to keep thieves away, but the power of the surveillance camera is not always one of those techniques.

Udo Gogg was certain he'd parked his car in a particular spot Wednesday at the Park and Ride lot in Canyon Park near Bothell. When he returned at the end of the work day, it was gone.

"I feel violated really," he said. "It's a terrible feeling."

Never mind that it was 17-year-old car. Gogg liked his dark green 1997 Honda Accord DX.

The busy Park and Ride lot is run by Community Transit of Snohomish County. Gogg says he "immediately looked up at the tower to see if there are cameras." He spotted plenty of lights, but noticed there were no cameras. Gogg says he's really surprised.

Community Transit said it can't afford to put security cameras at every single Park and Ride lot, especially in these days of budget cutbacks.

All Park and Ride lots get hit by car thieves. Drivers like Mickey Blackburn, who uses the Metro lot in Juanita just off I-405, aren't too worried. But Blackburn does agree cameras should be in every park and ride lot.

"I think it would be wise if Metro did a number of things with their service, and that would probably be one of them," he joked. "That'd probably help, yes."

There are other deterrents; patrol cars or even bait cars used to catch thieves.

In Community Transit's ten main Park and Ride lots in Snohomish County, they report 134 stolen cars in 2005. After a crackdown, they reported just 42 last year.

That's little solace to Gogg. He now must walk 40 minutes - leaving his apartment at 5:15 a.m. just to catch his 6 a.m. Bus.

"Well, I did it this morning really fast in 35," Gogg said.

Police are still looking for Gogg's car. His insurance doesn't cover a replacement car. It has a Washington plate AMJ0511, with a green recycling bumper sticker that said "1 GREEN PLANET.ORG."

Gogg pleads for anyone with information on the whereabouts of his car to call Bothell Police at (425) 486-1254.