When car prowls are running rampant, police officers sometimes sit in unmarked cars to watch for criminal activity — rarely, however, do they become car prowl victims themselves.
That’s exactly what happened in The Dalles earlier this year.
Two city police officers were sitting at 10th and Chenowith Loop around 4 a.m. on Feb. 27 when they saw two men walking toward their car.
“They saw them coming, but they had no idea they were going to start yanking on the car handles of the one they were in,” said The Dalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury.
“Scared the officers to death. I’m sure the car prowlers were a little bit shocked also,” he said.
The officers “jumped out and arrested one of them and one of them got away,” Waterbury said.
Waterbury asked the Chronicle not to report the incident at the time, in order to hopefully catch more car prowlers in the act. It didn’t work, however.
Dylan Grant, 21, 1212 Pomona St., was arrested that morning. His accomplice got away, although he was known to police. Grant had been arrested 10 days earlier for the same thing, Waterbury said.
The notion of people trying to break into a car with officers inside is “hilarious,” Waterbury said. “We all got a big chuckle around here.”
Car prowling is a year-round problem, Waterbury said.
“We prefer car prowlers to do it when it’s snowing. They’re easier to track.”
Police catch criminals in the act “probably more often than you’d think,” Waterbury said.
Car prowls happen at all times of the day, too. “We had one yesterday about 3 o’clock in the afternoon in the downtown area.”
City police will variously patrol on foot, on bicycles and in unmarked cars in efforts to catch car prowlers.
Car prowlers are “usually looking for things they can take and sell for drugs,” Waterbury said.
There were 174 car prowls in 2013, according city police records.