Data links non-pursuit law to sharp rise in car theft

Data links non-pursuit law to sharp rise in car theft

Recent data shows that auto thefts in Washington were up 88% in 2022 over 2021 – a spike that began when the no-pursuit law was passed. The data comes from the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority, which is dedicated to preventing and reducing motor vehicle thefts in the state of Washington.

It is no coincidence that this sharp rise in auto theft came just when the no-pursuit law was passed in Washington. Two years ago, the  Washington Legislature passed HB 1054, which, among other things, made it nearly impossible for police officers to pursue dangerous criminals. And not surprisingly, this doesn’t help them do their jobs to keep us safe.

Graphic: Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority

Over the past two years, criminals increasingly refuse to stop for police and auto thefts have surged since the passage of this extreme policy. To add insult to injury, it turns out the law was partially based on a now-debunked study.

While this incredible rise in theft is unacceptable, other victims have lost far more than property. Last month, two children were killed in a head-on accident when a vehicle struck them going the wrong way on Interstate 82 in Eastern Washington. This accident was completely preventable. According to KAPP KVEW’s Yak-Tri News, “State Trooper Chris Thorson said an hour before the crash, WSP troopers in Ellensburg attempted a traffic stop on that same vehicle for going 111 miles per hour on I-90.” However, when the driver fled the scene, police were not able to pursue. “Under current laws that the legislature passed, police officers are not allowed to pursue vehicles unless it’s something felonious in nature or suspected DUI. In this scenario, it was someone speeding really fast and that’s all the troopers had for probable cause at the time. So they had to follow the current law and terminate the pursuit,” Trooper Thorson said. 

Stolen cars also lead to other crimes. Amber Goldade lost her 12-year-old daughter Immaculee to this law as well. A driver in a stolen vehicle – one of many he had stolen – hit her and her friend Kathleen as they were walking home. Immaculee was killed instantly, while Kathleen suffered serious injuries. Again, this could have been prevented if police had been allowed to stop this criminal before her life was lost. 

The Washington House of Representatives has passed a new pursuit law that is so watered down it is completely ineffective. It doesn’t even restore pursuit for stolen vehicles. It wouldn’t have saved Immaculee’s life. 

Tell your Senators that It’s time to stand up for Immaculee and vote no on the watered-down pursuit bill.

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