REPORT: Washington auto thefts spiked 93% since reform laws passed


UNION GAP, Wash. — Since police reform laws went into effect last summer, the  Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) and Washington State Patrol (WSP) have recorded a serious uptick in vehicle thefts.

According to a document by WASPC Executive Director Steve Strachan obtained via the Union Gap Police Department, vehicle thefts increased by 93% since Washington state’s reform laws took effect at the end of July 2021.

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More so, vehicle thefts are up 99% in March 2022 compared with March of the previous year. Overall, auto thefts are up 88% year-to-date compared with the same timeframe from last year.

Some of this can be attributed to police reform laws that restricted officers’ ability to pursue suspects. During the state’s recent legislative session, S.B. 5919 drew bipartisan support to balance the rules on vehicle pursuits. After passing both chambers, the bill failed to pass in time on the final night of Washington state’s legislative session.

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“The data show what our law enforcement and communities are seeing out there every day—the word is out and criminals know what they can do under our current laws,” Strachan said. “Each of these alarming numbers represent a victim, and victims of auto theft too often are those who can least afford it- with older cars with fewer anti-theft systems, with less insurance coverage, and with greater impacts
on their lives.”

A total of 26,520 vehicles were reported stolen out of Washington state in 2020. That increased to 31,032 auto thefts in 2021. Now, WASPC estimated suggest the state will end with more than 50,000 stolen vehicles by the end of the year.


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