The upscale Scottsdale area of Phoenix is becoming a haven for auto thieves. The Arizona Republic quotes a disgusted Robert Stempkowski, who moved out of his Scottsdale apartment complex after two incidents. His Jeep Cherokee was taken this summer and he talked to a television news reporter it. A few days later, another of his vehicles was vandalized. “You think you’re safe because you have a Scottsdale ZIP code,” Stempkowski said.
Several other Scottsdale apartment complexes have similar theft patterns, said Scottsdale Sgt. Tom Macari. The number of auto thefts in Scottsdale has steadily risen in the past five years. Throughout the city, 1,123 vehicles have been stolen through September. In 1998, Scottsdale had 1,286 auto thefts for the whole year and in 1997, there were 1,142 auto thefts for the whole year.
Scottsdale’s increase comes at a time when other nearby areas, including Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe, are seeing their first significant declines since the early 1990s. Population increases and freeway access are the two major culprits.
On at least four occasions, police stationed a bait vehicle near an apartment complex. The satellite-monitored bait vehicle is designed to lure thieves, and several people have been arrested in Scottsdale on charges of taking it.
When thieves find a lucrative spot to rob, they’ll often hit several times within a few days, Macari said. Often the thefts are part of a gang initiation. “They’re fearless, they’re calculated, they’re efficient,” Stempkowski said. “They seem to know when they can get in here and be able to get in and out whenever they want.”