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New law would put car thieves in prison faster

The Mirror

Punishment for stealing cars would be stronger and swifter under a new law proposed by a state legislator from Federal Way.

House Bill 2822 was introduced in Olympia by Rep. Skip Priest, who said it’s aimed at prosecution and tougher sentencing for auto theft.

Priest, citing a 55 percent increase statewide in car thefts since 1994 and concern in his 30th District about repeat offenders “making a mockery” of existing laws, said the pending legislation would impose more meaningful punishment, make it a crime to possess “shaved keys’” that are a tool of car thieves, and provide funding for special police units to combat auto thievery.

Priest said his bill pays particular attention to how the justice system treats repeat offenders. He proposes tougher penalties for a second theft, noting that state laws now allow seven convictions of auto theft before an adult is sentenced to prison.

Authorities in King County last year emphasized the relative lack of harsh penalties for car thefts.

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