In January and February, the Anchorage Police Department says a total of 359 vehicles were reported stolen. In November and December, 262 vehicles were reported stolen.

APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said police have found that vehicles are being stolen for a number of reasons, and may be an indicator of what condition the vehicle could be in when it is found.

“Some are simply driven around until they run out of gas,” Castro explained. “Some are trashed and used for ‘doper vehicles,’ which means they are likely full of drugs, drug paraphernalia, and garbage when they are recovered. Some are stripped for parts. Some are used for short joy riding trips. Some are used as getaway cars during the commission of crimes.”

Some vehicles are easier to steal during the winter because drivers warming up their vehicles leave the keys in the ignition, something police have warned against. The practice is also against the law.

Roughly 80 percent of the vehicles reported stolen in January and February have been recovered, she said, adding that Alaska’s geographical location helps keep the vehicles in the state.

Castro noted that the police department has also seen at least a dozen cases of license plate thefts, even from vehicles not reported stolen.

“It’s important that people check theirs to make sure the correct one is on,” she said. “When is the last time you looked at your license plate to make sure you have the right one on?”

Anyone who finds their plates have been stolen or switched should call Anchorage police to report the theft, Castro said. Replacement plates can be obtained by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles.