Twitter, Where's My Car?

Seattle police use a dedicated Twitter account to report the details of verified car thefts. It's crowdsourcing police work! Police in other cities have tried this, but Seattle has a bizarrely high car theft rate, partly due to a logistical problem in the courts in which car thieves are routinely charged with misdemeanors and released.


  1. I was once visiting Seattle, and witnessed a car accident involving somebody in the middle lane turning right in front of a car in a right-hand turn lane. The net effect seemed to be limited mostly to the ‘middle’ car, which was now snagged on the bumper of the “victim” van. No amount of jiggering seemed to be freeing the vehicle.

    My friends and I stopped and offered to act as witnesses for the police report. We were talking with the driver of the van while the driver of the other car started pacing back and forth. Finally, he blurted, “I stole the car!” and ran down the block.

    As I watched him take off, I somehow had it in my head that he was going into the nearby pharmacy in order to call the police. The rest of us resumed our conversation, and after a few seconds I said, “Wait a second. Did he just say he stole the car?”

    My friends suddenly got a confused look on their faces, and said, “I kind of THOUGHT that’s what he said, but…”

    I then bolted after the guy, but the 3/4 block start he’d acquired allowed him to vanish into the back alleys pretty quickly.

    It was an interesting experiment in crowd-think, as well as the only time I’ve ever witnessed a car-theft, and it happened in Seattle. The end.

  2. Glenn wrote, “a logistical problem in the courts in which car thieves are routinely charged with misdemeanors and released”.

    How is that a logistical problem? Is the problem the pesky ‘ole legislative branch of government, getting in the way of police determining guilt and imposing punishment? Of course people are released after being charged.

    1. Ah, I meant, “charged with misdemeanors and never prosecuted.” I hope the police in other jurisdictions aren’t holding people indefinitely for car theft without trials.

      1. That sounds like a problem in the prosecutor’s office, not in the courts. Besides all that, SPD are busy raiding jack shacks, card rooms, and medical marijuana patients. Where are they going to find time for dealing with property crime?

        1. The courts don’t have the capacity to handle the load, the prosecutors lack the resources to process, and the crimes are classified as misdemeanors. A pilot project funded by the feds, I think, provided resources for prosecuting car thefts as felonies, and thefts went down. With no penalty for car theft, which is how it stands now, people just reoffend.

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