Vehicle theft spikes on Peninsula

A spike in the number of cars stolen on the Kenai Peninsula during the last two weeks has brought about an interesting reply from the citizenry.

In a response to the sudden increase in larceny, a Facebook group called Kenai Peninsula Crime was created July 30; within a week group had more than 1,400 members.

Beth Ipsen, trooper spokesperson, said, in an email, that five vehicles were reported stolen from Peninsula residents in the last two weeks as compared to 10 cars stolen between May 30 and July 24. She said all but one of the 15 total stolen vehicles has since been recovered.

Some of thefts appear to be connected; thieves are stealing cars, ditching them and then stealing a different car from the area where they dumped the original stolen vehicle, she said

Ipsen said some of the cars were “jimmied,” but many of the thefts have been of unlocked vehicles.

Sgt. Ben Langham said the Kenai Police is dealing with one recent vehicle theft. A 2006 black Chevy pickup with camouflage trim and a personalized license plate that reads “BANDED.” It was stolen from a residence off Beaver Loop Road Monday. The pickup was last seen early Monday morning driving north on the Sterling Highway.

Drivers should remove valuables from their cars and lock their vehicles to avoid being an easy target for theft, Langham said.

Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik said Soldotna has not had any recent car thefts within his city’s limits.

Mlynarik said vehicle owners should park in well-lit areas and should avoid leaving keys in “easy places” like the glove box or over the visor.

“Chances are there’s not many people that are going to know how, especially with the newer vehicles, to break into it and then try to hotwire it and drive it off,” Mlynarik said. “They’re looking for opportunity easy things.”

To call in a tip on a theft or to report suspicious activity call troopers at 907-260-2702, Kenai Police at 907-283-7879 or Soldotna Police at 907-262-4455.

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