The case of the wandering Lexus SUV that was stolen and found and stolen again has now been found again. Each time it was located within seven blocks the owner's home.
On August 30, the 2004 Lexus SUV, belonging to Jan Gilmore of Green Street in the Yates Gardens area of Old Town, was spotted in the 900 block of Green Street, according to Lieutenant John Crawford, Alexandria Police Department, spokesperson. This was the second time it had been stolen and recovered during August.
"The car was located by police about 3:15 p.m. that day with no damage," Crawford said. "The steering column was not disturbed and the ignition was intact."
Following a report of the first theft on August 13, the vehicle was located by Gilmore parked in the 900 block of South St. Asaph Street. But, before it could be tested for evidence by the police Identification Unit, it was stolen again that same night from the parking spot on South St. Asaph Street.
Gilmore had been instructed by police to leave it there until tests were complete. Sometime between 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m., prior to the arrival of the ID Unit, the thieves returned to take it again. When contacted, Gilmore had no comment on this second recovery.
Crawford noted, "It's a very strange case. But, stranger things have happened. Once a car is stolen it usually turns up, if at all, in another jurisdiction."
THAT IS EXACTLY what happened while Alexandria Police were investigating this case and four other reports of stolen vehicles in the Yates Gardens area in early August. They located a car that had turned up missing from Arlington. It had been abandoned in the 900 block of South Fairfax Street.
During the same time frame, August 10-13, when Gilmore's auto was initially stolen, there were four other vehicles taken within a four block radius within Yates Gardens. They were a 2004 Volvo SUV, a 2002 Corvette, a 1995 Subaru Legacy, and a 1995 Honda Accord. None have been recovered as of this writing, Alexandria police reported.
Car thefts have been on the increase in the Washington Metropolitan Region according to law enforcement statistics. As recently reported by The Washington Post, this metropolitan area now ranks 28th nationally in vehicle thefts with 673 per 100,000 residents.
Nationwide there is a vehicle stolen once every 20 seconds, according to statistics.
As reported to police, Alexandria listed 720 vehicle thefts in 2001, the latest year for which statistics are available. As Crawford noted, "The national average for recovery of stolen autos is 60 percent. But, Alexandria has averaged 86 percent for the last three years."
IN ORDER TO confront this growing epidemic, the Washington Area Vehicle Enforcement Unit was created in 2000. It is a multi-jurisdictional effort to not only stem the tide of vehicle thefts but also to increase recovery.
Alexandria also has its own Grand Larceny Task Force which can put particular attention on any given area of the city when a spike in vehicle thefts is noted, according to Crawford. The local task force works in close cooperation with a multiplicity of such units stretching from Baltimore to Fredericksburg on a regular basis.