Auto theft: State law allows more time for investigation

The 1994 Honda Accord was the most stolen vehicle in 2010, according to the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority. - Courtesy photo
The 1994 Honda Accord was the most stolen vehicle in 2010, according to the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

House Bill 2354, which extends the statute of limitations on car theft cases from three years to six years, was passed recently in the Washington State Legislature.

The extension is aimed at allowing law enforcement more time to investigate car theft rings and repeat offenders.

State Sen. Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way) said this bill was needed, especially for areas like South King County, where auto theft has become widespread in recent years. Eide introduced HB 2354's twin in the Senate.

"Trafficking of cars is a lucrative, and unfortunately, pervasive problem in South King County," she said. "In the past 18 months, prosecutors have found themselves restrained from taking action on five separate cases of car theft due to short statute of limitations requirements. This bill gives prosecutors the tools necessary to hold criminals accountable for their actions to the benefit of public safety not just in King County, but across the state."

In a May 2011 article, The Mirror reported that at least in Federal Way, auto theft was being effectively combated. The crime was down 50 percent in the city since 2005, with only 659 cars reported as stolen in 2011, compared to 1,573 in 2005. Federal Way Police Deputy Chief Andy Hwang credited the decrease to the formation of a number of regional task forces aimed directly at combating auto theft.

"Our officers are looking for auto thieves," Hwang said. "Over the years, that's made a difference."

The South King County task force has been invaluable in combatting auto theft, especially given the region's prime location for car thieves to easily move cars north or south.

"It's so close to everything," said Grant Clark, spokesman for the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority.


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