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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Visitors warned about car prowls

Police have a message for visitors in town today through Saturday for the State B Basketball Tournament: Lock your car doors and hide your valuables.

Car prowling spiked two years ago near the Spokane Arena during the State B, said Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern, who is spearheading efforts to increase the police presence for the games.

Thieves appeared to target the tournament for small high schools, whose fans often don’t have to worry about theft in their hometowns.

“They certainly don’t have the crime rate in the small towns that we do here, so they may be a little more lax in their diligence,” McGovern said.

Volunteers will place about 1,500 police fliers in the windshields of cars parked near the Spokane Arena advising guests to lock their doors and keep valuables out of sight.

The handouts are meant not only to provide tips to parkers, but as a sign to thieves that law enforcement is in the area, McGovern said.

Police will increase their watch of Arena parking lots and surrounding streets with officers in plain clothes and unmarked cars, and on bikes.

The department isn’t paying overtime to create the emphasis around the Arena, McGovern said. Instead, officers switch to State B patrol from other jobs.

This is the second year that the department has targeted the State B. McGovern said that car prowling fell significantly during the 2004 tournament, probably because of the extra emphasis.

“We just want people to enjoy their time here and not come away with a bad experience,” said police spokesman Dick Cottam.