15.190 – Theft and Recovery of Vehicle, License Plates, or License Tabs
Effective Date: 2/19/2014
This policy applies to personnel when investigating auto thefts and recovering stolen vehicles.
1. The Communications Section Documents Stolen Vehicles and Plates in a SPD Preliminary Vehicle Report
The call taker shall complete a Preliminary Vehicle Report when documenting a report of:
- Theft of a vehicle, where the suspect is unknown to the victim, and the vehicle has not been ‘loaned’ to any party
- Theft of one or both license plates
Theft of license plate tabs and attempted theft of a vehicle will be documented as a theft in a General Offense Report.
2. Officers Complete a Supplemental Report Documenting the On-Scene Investigation of Stolen Vehicles and Plates
Officers complete the supplemental report using the “Stolen Vehicle Investigations” template and including in the narrative:
- The specific details of the theft, and
- Any evidence left at the scene, and
- Any property of significant value left in the vehicle by the victim, and
- That they provided the complainant with a case number and business card.
3. Officers Document all Crimes in and Auto Theft Investigation Using the Same Case Number
When conducting a vehicle theft investigation along with another crime(s), complete a GO to document the crime and the vehicle theft using the case number under which the theft was reported.
Exception: If another crime is investigated pursuant to a vehicle recovery, a GO will be completed for the investigation of the crime and a supplemental report will be completed to recover the vehicle using the GO number under which it was reported stolen.
4. Officers Screen Certain Cases with the Auto Theft Unit
In some situations, officers will refer complainants to the Auto Theft Unit rather than complete a stolen vehicle report. Refer complainants to the Auto Theft Unit when:
- The complainant knows who has the vehicle.
- The complainant’s child (juvenile or adult) took the vehicle. This also applies to family members over whom the complainant assumes a parent/guardian role and family members living in the same household.
- If the situation warrants a missing person/runaway report, list the vehicle information in the narrative of that report.
- A rental car company is the complainant. This includes short term usage companies such as Car2Go and ZipCar.
5. Officers May Consult the Auto Theft Sergeant
Call 206-684-8948 or via the Chief Dispatcher after hours.
6. If the Complainant Insists on Receiving a Case Number, Write a “Suspicious Circumstance” GO Report
Provide the GO number of the report to the complainant on a business card and route the report to the Auto Theft Unit.
7. Officers Will Impound Recovered Vehicles Only in Certain Instances
If the Communications Section cannot contact the owner or the owner cannot respond officers will impound recovered vehicles originally reported stolen in Seattle only if:
- The owner authorized the impound,
- The vehicle poses an immediate hazard, or
- It is illegally parked as described in SMC 11.30.040.
If none of the above applies, officers may leave the vehicle legally parked with a business card left in the vehicle.
Officers may also release the vehicle to another person specified by the owner.
8. Officers Complete a Supplemental Report for Recovered SPD Stolens
If a vehicle is originally reported stolen in Seattle and it is recovered in Seattle, officers will use the original GO number for the recovery.
9. Impound Vehicles Stolen Outside the City and Complete a New General Offense Report
Immediately impound vehicles recovered in the city that were reported stolen outside the city. Obtain a new GO number for the Tow/Impound Record.
15.190-PRO-1 Officer Taking Report of Stolen Vehicle or Plates
1. Completes the Preliminary Vehicle Report, “Greenie”.
1a. If this is not done before the officer is dispatched, the officer will call in this information after step 5.
2. Dispatches officer to take the report.
3. Interviews complainant.
4a. If the case falls under 15.190-POL, Section 4, refers complainant to the Auto Theft Unit at 206-684-8940 or SPDAutoTheft@seattle.gov.
If the complainant is referred to Auto Theft or the investigation dictates that the vehicle should not be listed as stolen, notifies Communications Section that the investigation is not a valid auto theft at this time.
5. Advises Radio that the officer has a “verified stolen” and whether or not the complainant requests impound.
6. Completes a supplemental report using the assigned case number on the call.
7. Faxes the Preliminary Vehicle Report to Data Center.
8. Creates a GO report and scans the Preliminary Vehicle Report into the case file.
9. Enters the vehicle into WACIC/NCIC as stolen based on the information on the Preliminary Vehicle Report.
15.190-TSK-1 Officer Documenting a Stolen Vehicle
When documenting an auto theft investigation, the officer:
1. Conducts a field investigation concerning the facts of the stolen vehicle report.
2. Determines if the reporting party would like their vehicle impounded or not and whether or not they consent to officers performing a vehicle search upon recovery.
3. Advises complainant the vehicle may be impounded if it presents a hazard or is illegally parked upon recovery.
4. Gives a business card and case number to the complainant.
5. Writes a supplemental report using the GO number on the call.
15.190-PRO-2 Officer Recovering a Stolen Vehicle
1. Takes incoming report of recovery and obtains, at a minimum, the following information:
- Location of the recovery
- Vehicle condition (damaged, etc.)
- Vehicle stripped of wheels, plate, engine, transmission, other
- Number of plates currently on vehicle
- Location of impound, if applicable
- Date and time of release to owner
- Date, time, and name of who notified owner of the recovery
2. Verifies the vehicle as stolen and notifies Data Center to remove it from WACIC/NCIC as stolen.
3. Relays the verification to the responding officer.
4. Contacts the victim to have victim respond to the scene and reclaim the vehicle.
5. Conducts an inventory search and fingerprint search of the vehicle.
6a. If the vehicle is a SPD Stolen, Completes a supplemental report to the original GO number to document the condition of the vehicle and circumstances of the recovery.
6b. If the vehicle is an outside agency stolen, Completes a GO to document the condition of the vehicle and circumstances of the recovery.
7b. Releases the vehicle to an authorized person.
7c. Leaves the vehicle parked with a business card attached.