Photo/Katherine Rose/KCAW

The Sitka Police Department has seen a spree of car thefts in the past month. While being on an island means stolen vehicles are usually recovered, that doesn’t always mean they’re returned in one piece. Lieutenant Lance Ewers says the Sitka Police department is juggling several investigations.

“We have had a spike, a dramatic spike, in people’s property being taken, cars and stuff from cars. People taking those cars and going on joyrides, which oftentimes results in damaged property, because, you know the old saying, ‘drive it like you stole it.’  Some of the vehicles that were taken were returned with minimal or no damage,” Ewers says. “But there have been a few that were returned with substantial amounts of damage.”

Ewers says Sitka Police have identified two separate groups of people they believe to be responsible and that charges are forthcoming.

“They’re not working in cahoots with each other, they don’t even know each other,” Ewers says. “It just happens to be at the same time.”

The rise in burglaries and car thefts began in January. Sitka Police issued a press release, reminding citizens to lock their vehicles and homes, but few heeded that call.. Ewers says the long-standing culture of trust in Sitka leaves property susceptible.  

It’s a badge of honor,” Ewers says. “You know, we live in Sitka. I don’t have to worry about my vehicle when I go to Sea Mart. My vehicles are just left, the keys are left in the glove box or the car cup holder. But unfortunately some people do take advantage of that kind of environment.”

His recommendation? Lock up personal property and instead of hiding your keys, take them with you.