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North Everett auto dealers seeing rise in car theft

Nathan Whalen photo

Justin Harpham and Mike Hutchinson, owners of Broadway Auto Sales in north Everett, have been dealing with damages to vehicles and thefts since they took over the business around two years ago.

EVERETT — In the two years since Justin Harpham and Mike Hutchinson bought Broadway Auto Sales in north Everett, they’ve seen their vehicles damaged and stolen in a rash of incidents.
They’ve seen four vehicles stolen from their dealership and catalytic converters removed from other cars. One employee had their headlights and air intakes stolen from their personal car.
“It’s just crazy,” Harpham said.
One of the stolen vehicles, a pickup, was used to steal an ATM machine and another, a van, was a total loss, Harpham said. He estimated Broadway Auto Sales, which is across the street from the Safeway on Broadway, has sustained around $25,000 in losses.
Broadway Auto Sales isn’t the only north Everett dealership that has experienced problems since the beginning of the year. Everett Auto Sales, Checkered Flag Motors, West Motorsports and American Dream Motors have had incidents that have ranged from motor vehicle theft, malicious mischief, burglary, or theft of motor vehicle parts, according to information from the Everett Police Department.
North Everett has seen an increase in vehicle thefts in recent years. The area saw 368 vehicle thefts in 2022, which is up from 246 in 2021. North Everett experienced 302 thefts so far in 2023, according to Everett Police.
Police Department spokeswoman Officer Ora Hamel said the department is working with Broadway Auto Sales to reduce the number of incidents at the lot, but the arrangement is in its early stages and too soon to gauge how it is working.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that Washington had 46,939 vehicle thefts in 2022, up from 36,921 in 2021, which is a 31 percent increase.
Dealerships have been dealing with catalytic converter thefts and motor vehicle thefts since 2020, said Rick Olson, director of operations for the Washington State Independent Auto Dealership Association, which represents 525 dealerships in the state.
Harpham said that if they report these thefts, then they run the risk of having their insurance rates increase.
“We’ve just taken all the losses,” Harpham said.
Olson said that a lot of dealerships have stopped reporting thefts. He added insurance companies are requiring dealerships to have keys locked in a storage box and located in a hidden part of the office.
He said while most dealerships are making the change, some of the smaller ones are not. “They are living vehicle-by-vehicle.”
Harpham said Broadway Auto Sales is improving their security. Lights, cameras, and security patrols have been added, but it’s too soon to know if it will make a difference.
GPS will be installed in their vehicles, Harpham said, which is cheaper than dealing with a stolen vehicle; however, that is an expense that is passed on to customers.
Olson said dealerships must make sure things, including temporary permits, title permits, and cash, should be secured with a lock box or a wall-safe or floor-mounted safe.
“The more they are aware of security in their area, the better they are at protecting their business,” Olson said.



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