Car Theft: A Changing Crime

Some of you may have caught this Kitsap Sun Code 911 story on the Web Wednesday:

A would-be thief who allegedly tried to make off with a car Tuesday got less than an hour with his stolen ride, according to the Bremerton Police Department.

Officers heard reports that the vehicle, a 2003 Acura RSX, was stolen from Erlands Point Road at around 3 a.m. One officer saw a similar vehicle drive by soon after, near the intersection of 13th Street and Kitsap Way.

The officer followed the car as it accelerated to speeds he guessed were about 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. The car also failed stop at two stop signs, reports said. At around 3:30 a.m., the officer saw a man matching the alleged car thief’s description crossing Naval Avenue at Fifth Street, and also noticed he wasn’t wearing a coat — in 35 degree weather — and appeared nervous. The officer asked him if he’d seen an Acura-like car drive by, and the man quipped, “Why, was it stolen?” according to reports.

The car was located soon after by another officer at the 300 block of Naval Avenue and the man, a 24-year-old Bremerton resident, was taken to jail by Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies.

This Code story is a successful — and quick — ending to a car theft. However, many more aren’t so lucky.

Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge recently informed me of the “sentencing range” — how much time an offender is likely to get — for car theft in Washington.

Here’s the range a judge works from as a penalty for anywhere from one to six cars*, according to Hauge:

1 car: 0-60 days

2 cars: 0-90 days

3 cars: 2-5 months

4 cars: 3-8 months

5 cars: 4-12 months

6 cars: 12-14 months

*Car theft offenders are also eligible for 50 percent “good time” — meaning their sentences are cut in half for good behavior while behind bars.

I’ll be examining car theft as a feature story in May, and would love any stories, opinions and input any readers could give. Feel free to leave a note.

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