Spokane police are combating a surge in vehicle prowling with a new public awareness campaign aimed at preventing it.
The "Remove it or Lose it" campaign, which officially begins July 9, aims to help citizens remember to keep valuables out of plain sight in their cars, park in well lit or high-traffic areas, keep their doors locked and to call 911 if they see someone prowling cars.
Police report a 38 percent increase in vehicle prowling in the past year.
A prowling suspect was arrested Tuesday morning near North Monroe Street and East Augusta Avenue.
Spokane police Officer Chris Johnson arrested Shabrawn M. Rautio, 20, after a witness reported seeing Rautio smash a car window and steal a red backpack.
Johnson spotted Rautio walking south on Monroe carrying a red backpack. He lied to Johnson about his name but eventually told him the truth. Police returned the backpack to its owner "who was extremely grateful for the return of her things," according to a news release by Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.
In another news release, Officer Brian Eckersley outlined the dire stakes of property crime and the steps that must be taken to prevent it.
"There is always somebody looking to take something from you. There are several out right now, looking in car windows and checking for unlocked doors," Eckersley wrote. "Where is your purse, phone, lap top, jewelry or hand gun? Are you sure?"