The state of Washington enforces its own set of laws concerning motor vehicle thefts in the state. These can be found in the Revised Code of Washington at RCW 9A.56. According to Washington law, theft is defined as “wrongfully obtaining or exertion of unauthorized control over another person’s property with the intention of depriving him or her permanently of such.” Motor Vehicle Theft is specified as a type of theft where the property stolen is a vehicle. This is a Class B Felony, punishable by no more than 10 years of imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $20,000. Nonetheless, motor vehicle theft is a rampant problem in this Northwest state.
Elements of Motor Vehicle Theft
There are three elements required in order for a crime to be categorized as motor vehicle theft. The first one is the wrongful exertion of unauthorized control over the second element of the crime, which is another person’s vehicle. The intent or the motive to permanently deprive the owner of said vehicle makes up the third element.
Auto Theft along The US West Coast
According to the Washington State Legislature, there has been an increase in motor vehicle thefts of more than 3% in the West Coast region of the US, making it the only region of the United States exhibiting such a trend in recent years. Typically, the family car is among the largest investment a person makes, second only to the home. The loss of such property is a source of major inconvenience to anyone, imposing financial difficulties and negatively affecting not only their daily personal activities, but also their transportation to jobs and educational activities.
More than One Vehicle Stolen Every 11 Minutes
With an automobile stolen every 11 minutes in Washington, this means that one hundred and thirty-eight vehicles are stolen in the state each day, and that there is a 1 in 179 chance of a car-owner’s vehicle being stolen in the state. Most of these crimes have been found to have occurred in the central Puget Sound region. This area includes some of the most densely populated locales, such as Pierce, King, Spokane, Yakima, Clark and Snohomish counties.
In any given week in Washington, more cars are stolen on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays than on other days. Another interesting fact to note is that one out of five stolen cars are started using a key mistakenly left in the car by its owner. As per the criminal history data obtained from the Washington State Patrol, a huge majority of motor vehicle theft offenders are young white males between the ages of 15 and 27 years old, and only a relatively small percentage of the crimes (9.6%) are drug-related.
Honda Accords Are the Most Targeted in Washington
Based on a study conducted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the Honda Accord holds the record of being stolen the most often in Washington State. Accords are then followed by the Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, Acura Integra, Subaru Legacy, Nissan Sentra, Dodge Caravan, Saturn SL, Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder.
Needless to say, if you are a car owner in Washington state, it would prove wise to remove your keys and lock up your car after parking, especially if you drive an Accord.