The Anchorage Police Department arrested 25 individuals connected to stolen vehicles and goods during an undercover operation last week. 

Officers with APD's Patrol Division worked together with the Investigative Support Unit, Community Action Policing, VICE and Property Crimes Detectives to make the arrests. 

The sting resulted in 20 new felony charges, 17 new misdemeanor charges and 19 arrest warrants being served. 

"The FBI’s Safe Streets Team, Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Administration, Alaska State Troopers, and the United States Postal Service also assisted APD in this investigation," according to a release from Anchorage police. 

Lt. Gerard Asselin, who coordinated the sweep, said the majority of the individuals they arrested were already actively involved in the criminal justice system. 

"19 of them had existing warrants for their arrest. We ended up with 37 new criminal charges, both felony and misdemeanor, you mentioned a dozen guns that we recovered from these folks, a multitude of drugs -- But additionally, we saw people who were wearing ankle monitors, people who were on probation, folks who were otherwise wanted for questioning on other crimes," said Asselin. 

He said snapshot look at car theft in Anchorage provided by the results of the operation confirmed for him what police in Anchorage intuitively know, "It really illustrated to us in a concise picture that the folks that are involved in stolen vehicle activity in Anchorage, the majority of them are also involved in other things." 

Some of the items recovered in the sting include:

  • 12 stolen vehicles
  • 12 guns
  • Guitar
  • Drugs seized include: Prescription pills, meth, heroin, marijuana

According to a check of an online inmate locator database and online court records Wednesday, at least 14 of the 25 individuals arrested had been released. 

APD also released updated vehicle theft data that indicates the problem might be getting better. 

At first glance, the numbers don't look great.

Between January and September of last year, a record breaker for car thefts, 2,361 cars were stolen, compared to a higher amount of 2,684 for the same nine month period in 2018. 

But according to the latest numbers, something changed in July, as the rate started to decrease and continued to dip below last year's numbers through September. 

875 cars were reported stolen between July and September last year, and that number goes down to 659 for those same three months this year. 

APD Chief Justin Doll said it's difficult to point to a specific factor influencing the data, but said he's optimistic the downward trend will continue. 

"When we see a steady decline like that, we're always very interested in how it's occurring. I think that, and I hope, that the effort that we've been putting in since the beginning of the year is contributing to that," said Doll. 

He asked for the community's help keeping the numbers down as the weather gets colder and it's often more tempting to leave a vehicle unlocked and running. 

"I don't like getting in a cold vehicle any more than anybody else does, but please help us protect you by making it more difficult for your vehicle to be stolen and don't leave the keys in it," said Doll. 

APD released these additional tips to avoid becoming a victim: 

  • Never leave keys in an unattended vehicle whether they are in the ignition or hidden inside somewhere.
  • Never leave anything inside your car that you don't want stolen.  If you must leave something inside, make sure it's concealed.
  • Lock your vehicle.
  • Do not leave firearms in your unattended vehicle.
  • Do not leave garage door openers inside your unattended vehicle – they can be stolen and used to gain entry into your residence.
  • Check the front and rear of your vehicle daily to make sure the license plates that belong on your vehicle are still displayed.  Car thieves are known to steal plates from parked cars and they will sometimes replace them with other stolen plates.
  • It's getting cold outside - keep jumper cables, a shovel, and warm clothing inside your trunk in case your vehicle should become disabled.  Your gas tank should always be at least half full.

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