King County car thefts fall sharply

Car thefts in King County have declined by more than half since the inception of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office implemented what they named the ‘Car Theft Initiative’ (CTI) in 2005.

Just seven years ago, King County ranked sixth in the nation in the rate of auto theft.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported that for 2011, the Seattle-King County metropolitan region ranked 12th for the number of stolen cars. The number of auto thefts nationally is also trending down with a 3.3 percent drop from 2010 to 2011.

The Crime Bureau reports that auto thefts nationally are now at the lowest point in the last 45 years.

The Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority is echoing similar positive trends statewide when it comes to auto theft. It reports that statewide, auto thefts have declined 43 percent from 2005 to 2011.

In the last five years, the average sentence for an auto thief has more than doubled from 27 months to 66 months in prison.

In 2007, the Elizabeth Nowak-Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority Act was enacted by the Washington state Legislature. That program  provides grant money for assisting law enforcement in investigating and preventing auto thefts in the state. It is funded by a surcharge on traffic infractions.

When the prosecuting attorney and law enforcement launched the new car theft initiative, there were approximately 17,700 reported car thefts in King County. In 2011, that number fell to 8,623. That means that there were 9,000 fewer stolen cars in 2011 than there had been in 2005.

Using the National Insurance Institute’s average claim for loss of $8,600 per stolen vehicle, this decrease reflects a savings of over $80 million to King County insurers over the course of 2011.

The savings to citizens, insurance companies and the overall improvement to public safety have been enormous.

For more information, go to the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority website: http://watpa.waspc.prg.


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