KENNEWICK - Kennewick police have a message for owners of Hondas and Acuras: Keep a close eye on your car.
Officers suspect a car theft ring might be operating in Kennewick after several cars recently were swiped, stripped and dumped.
"Right now, it's safe to say we have a group of criminals looking for and stealing these cars," Sgt. Ken Lattin said. "If you have one, keep an eye on it."
A lot of cars made in the 1990s -- especially Hondas and Toyotas -- are targeted by thieves because they are easy to steal.
The cars don't have security chips in the key, so thieves can use a shaved key or just punch the ignition and drive away, Lattin said.
The top four most stolen cars in Washington in 2009 were 1992 Honda Accords, 1995 Honda Civics, 1990 Toyota Camrys and 1995 Acura Integras, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Kennewick residents have reported the following car thefts this month:
-- Jan. 7, at 12:50 p.m., a dark blue 1990 Honda Accord was stolen while parked in front of the Azteca restaurant at the Columbia Center mall. The car was found later that day in Pasco.
-- Jan. 11, at 6 a.m., a 1998 Honda Civic was reported stolen sometime overnight while parked in a driveway in the 1400 block of South Hartford Place. About five hours later, the vehicle was found abandoned in an orchard on Kennedy Road in Richland. It was on blocks and all four tires were gone.
-- Jan. 14, at 6 a.m., a 1989 blue Acura Integra was stolen overnight while parked in front of a house in the 1000 block of West 14th Avenue. The owner said she still had her keys. The Integra was recovered by Benton County sheriff's deputies later that day on Dallas Road near Interstate 182. It was partially stripped.
-- Jan. 14, at 8:30 a.m., a black 1996 Honda Civic with after-market wheels and tires was taken from the driveway of a home in the 2300 block of South Garfield Street. Sheriff's deputies found the car stripped and unoccupied near Dennis Road and Weber Canyon Road the same day.
-- Jan. 17, at 10:30 a.m., a 1997 black Acura was swiped from in front of a home in the 1800 block of South Mayfield Street. The Acura, which has black wheels and a spoiler, has not yet been found. Its license plate number is 486WKP.
Officers suspect the thieves are driving through neighborhoods scoping out potential target cars, then returning overnight to steal them.
"These thieves don't care if it's locked or not," Lattin said.
Those who own 1990s model Hondas or Acuras should know their cars are on the hot list, so they need to keep their cars locked up -- in a garage if available -- and be on the lookout for people who may be showing extra interest in their vehicles, Lattin said.
If something looks suspicious, try to get a description of the person and license plate number and call police.