Auburn Police say reported 'crime spree' isn’t happening

AUBURN, Wash. – Neighbors in the Lea Hill neighborhood of Auburn report an uptick in crime that police say isn’t happening.

“If you seem to be doing a little better than some people, they assume you have more that you can do without,” said Petr Bastar.

He’s worried about crime in Lea Hill after his neighbors reported thefts and car prowls.

“Not only do we have car prowls, but in the past we’ve had home intrusions and robberies,” he said.

Bastar said his neighborhood is a target for crime. Across the street from his home, a neighbor reported her car was rummaged through with items missing. Down the street from his home, he said, another neighbor reported two bikes stolen from their front yard.

“You leave your stuff out, you don’t lock the car up, people will go in and take it,” he said.

Neighbors in his cul-de-sac have invested in security systems, but police said they’re not catching more criminals on camera.

“The amount of vehicle prowls that have been reported to us have been steadily declining,” said Auburn Police Commander Mark Caillier. He said the last time they saw double-digit car thefts in Lea Hill was in April, with 13 reported.

“Five in May, five in June, two in July, four in August,” he read from a report. “They’re trending down.”

In all of District Three or greater Lea Hill, he said, it’s the same. April was a high of 23, August had 9 cases of vehicle theft.

He attributes neighbors’ concerns to social media effect.

“A lot of times, people report on something that they heard from something else, but it could be the same incident they are just hearing about it from two different parties.”

“Lea Hill is one of the safer areas of Auburn,” said Caillier.

“Crime is down, it’s quiet and very friendly, like a very small town,” said Larry Hansen.

He lives a few blocks away from Bastar and said he chose the neighborhood because crime numbers were low.

Most of his neighbors have cameras or security systems. They also have a Block Watch, like Bastar’s neighborhood.

Police said those are good deterrents to crime and attribute their down turn in car thefts to increased neighbor prevention.

Bastar said he won’t be letting down his guard. He said his car will stay like his front door – locked.

“Lack of opportunity is a good deterrent," he said.