Fairbanks Police reports high number of vehicle thefts

Vehicles lined up on 2nd Ave in Fairbanks
Vehicles lined up on 2nd Ave in Fairbanks(Julie Swisher)
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 9:37 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -The Fairbanks Police Department (FPD) has reported a high volume of calls regarding vehicle thefts since the beginning of this year.

According to FPD, many of the stolen vehicles were unlocked and left running while victims were entering or exiting a business or home.

There have also been reports of vehicles stolen out of residential driveways.

Fairbanks Police Chief Ron Dupee said the department deals with vehicle thefts throughout the year but in the wintertime, residents leave their vehicles unattended to warm up as they shop or run back into their homes for whatever reason.

“Since January of 2023, Fairbanks Police Department has received over 20 reports of vehicle thefts,” said Dupee. “That is a mixture of both you know, retail facilities whether it is Walmart, Fred Meyers, places like that, gas stations.”

What Dupee is stressing to the public is not to leave their vehicle unlocked. “We find people will leave their keys in the vehicle, while the vehicle is running, and the vehicle unlocked,” he explained. “It is really a crime of opportunity; somebody who is walking by and is cold, they want to get out of the cold for a bit, they steal the vehicle, take it on a joyride, something like that.”

He added, it is also a good idea not to leave valuables in the vehicle. Items such as jewelry, money, or handguns can be tempting for those looking to break into vehicles. “Take it [valuables] inside wherever you go, whether it’s home or work. Just don’t leave those valuables inside your vehicle for someone to be able to steal them,” said Dupee.

Another tip is to take a picture of your vehicle. Any information one can give to law enforcement is helpful in trying to locate the vehicle. “Whether you have a dent in the door, if you are missing a tail light, if you are missing a mudflap, any of those things that make your vehicle unique and special, or that are specific to your vehicle we would like to know about it,” said Dupee.

He went on to explain what the process is when someone reports a vehicle theft or break-in. Dupee stated dispatch enters the victim’s information into a statewide database that shows the vehicle is in a stolen status. “Then we have an officer respond to the scene and they talk with the victim and they give them any characteristics, if they have any dents in the door, something like that,” he added. Next, the officers take that information and place it on the briefing board that all law enforcement agencies use. “Alaska State Troopers, Airport Police, North Pole Police, UAF Police, all the other agencies get those and are on the lookout for those on a daily basis,” he said.

Dupee says that while it obviously gets cold in Fairbanks during the winter months, those wishing to warm up their vehicles should take the proper precautions to prevent them from being stolen. He suggested getting a spare key. That way, if you want to warm up your vehicle or go into a building, you can lock the vehicle when you leave.

According to the Fairbanks Police Department, 168 vehicle thefts were reported in 2022. Crime information from the department is submitted to the state, and yearly statistics are published in the Uniform Crime Reports on the Department of Public Safety website.