GIG HARBOR, Wash. - A mobile blood drive event in Gig Harbor was cancelled on Monday due to vehicle battery thefts.
"They called me this morning and said my appointment was canceled," said Patricia Locke of Gig Harbor.
The blood drive was being held by Cascade Regional Blood Services, which is headquartered in Tacoma.
Racheal Lynch, Director of Donor Services, said thieves have been to two of their parking lots in Tacoma on I Street and Lawrence Street.
"This is actually the fourth time in a month the batteries were stolen," said Lynch. "So when the batteries aren’t there, there’s no way for the buses to run which means we have to cancel our mobile drives, which means that collecting enough blood for the hospitals is even more challenging than it already is right now."
Lynch said the national blood shortage is still ongoing, which makes the incidents further disappointing.
"The mobile units are clearly marked and you know what it is if you’re thieving out of it," said Locke. "Whoever took the batteries out of it knew that it was going to keep blood from people who need it. They probably had 30 appointments today, so that’s 30 people who wouldn’t receive the life-saving blood they need."
The Peninsula School District also discovered its catalytic converters on six of its vans were cut off on July 28.
"There was no general timeline of when this occurred because they’re just basically parked during the summer at the facility," said Sergeant Darren Moss of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. "We don’t know when the last time they were driven, so it’s hard to tell when they were stolen."
These types of crimes can happen extremely fast. In late May, two people were seen stealing a catalytic converter in the Spanaway area in less than 20 seconds.
Sergeant Moss said providing video evidence is helpful to the investigation.
"Give as much information as you can over the phone. We need a very detailed description of the person, what they’re wearing and we need a very detailed description of the vehicle. The best thing is always going to be a license plate number," said Sergeant Moss.
These cases are difficult to close but not impossible. In June, Kent Police recovered nearly 800 catalytic converters and made multiple arrests.
Law enforcement has recommendations to prevent these types of crimes:
- Park in a garage or will-lit area.
- Engrave your VIN number into your catalytic converter.
- Have the catalytic converter welded to your car’s frame, which makes it harder to steal.
- Install a car alarm that can detect vibration.
Lynch said Cascade Regional Blood Services has a plan to better secure their vehicles.
If you have any information about recent battery or catalytic converter thefts, submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers through your P3 Tips app, or by call 1-800-222-TIPS.
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