Every year in the city of Yakima police see an average of 500 to 700 vehicles stolen. Vehicle theft is a big problem all around the state. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs is out with a new report that shows vehicle thefts have increased 99 percent for March 2022 compared to March 2021.
They also note the thefts have increased 93 percent since a number of new laws went into effect at the end of July 2021.

WASPC officials blame the inaction of state lawmakers for the problems

“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,” says WASPC Executive Director Steve Strachan.  “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.”  He says WASPC believes the legislature failed to give law enforcement the authority to allow even the perceived possibility of a pursuit has created an environment that is a significant cause of the increase.

The new rules that hit the books in 2021 have given the green light to criminals

In July 2021 laws went into effect that placed restrictions on the tools law enforcement could use to detain, pursue,and investigate suspects.  Since the laws changed in 2021 vehicle thefts have increased 93 percent which WASPC believes is a direct result of the restrictions on investigating criminal activity.
“I have never seen criminals as emboldened as they are now,” says Strachan “Our mayors, law enforcement, and the community asked for help, and the legislature made the specific decision to continue to allow for brazen contempt for the law.  No one wants more pursuits, which are inherently dangerous, but current law has created an atmosphere of flouting the law even on simple traffic stops."

The future looks bleak

Things aren't going to get any better in the future say officials from WASPC. They say if current trends hold, 2022 will end with over 50,000 vehicles stolen this year in the State of Washington.

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