Car rates

Why Clark County has the third highest auto theft rate in Washington

Clark County prosecutor says more proactive approach needed to stop robberies

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As cars continue to go missing in Clark County, statewide data has shown more than 350 vehicles have been stolen in Clark County each month since the start. of the new year – reaching a total of 1,150 car thefts in March of 2022.

“We’ve noticed that auto theft cases here in our office and in Clark County have been up significantly for a while, but definitely more of a spike recently,” the Clark County prosecutor said, Tony Golik.

As the number of auto thefts continues to rise in Clark County, Golik told KOIN 6 News that in addition to police staffing issues, new laws that limit law enforcement and embolden criminals are some of the major factors behind the recent increase.

Clark County auto thefts by month through March 2022, source data WASPC (KOIN)

“In Washington, the change in drug laws and the significant decriminalization of drug possession, I think that’s a factor. Considering that a lot of people who steal cars are drug addicts,” Golik said. There are clearly a number of things at play. And when you put it all together, we are seeing an increase in car thefts.”

In an attempt to curb the dangerous trend of car thefts, Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Kim Kapp said his agency has begun increasing patrols in areas where more cars will be stolen.

“What we do is look at the data that shows where more thefts are happening, and then we try to deploy our resources and our police to those areas to patrol, to be very visible,” Kapp said. “Knowing that we can’t be everywhere, we kind of have to choose where those additional application areas are going to be. And so far, we are seeing positive effects.

Beyond the additional patrols, Kapp said VPD continues to provide the public with information on crime prevention tactics to help residents protect themselves from potential victims and participate in the community effort to help reduce crime. car thefts.

“Park where there are lights, keep your car locked, make sure there isn’t an extra set of keys somewhere nearby, and obviously try to use alarms and breakout devices. steering wheel lock if possible,” Kapp suggested. “We find that many vehicles are stolen because they are left running unattended.”

Kapp said VPD takes the increase in auto theft very seriously because the crime is not only costly and inconvenient for the victim, but has often become the catalyst for other dangerous crimes.

“We are certainly seeing an increase in car theft and other issues as well. We have looked at gun theft, and what we find is that almost half of the guns reported as stolen are the result of auto theft or vehicle trouble,” she said. “So we know a lot of people store guns in their car and as a result when the car is broken into their guns are also stolen. We have crimes that flow from this type of facts. »

While Golik said he approves of and appreciates law enforcement’s preemptive tactics, he said he believes a more proactive approach is needed to address this troubling trend.

“I think we need to start talking about creating auto theft task forces and really focus on this particular type of crime, because we’re seeing a real spike here. I don’t think it’s appropriate to just tell people who own cars, “do a better job of monitoring your car,” Golik said. “We need to change our direction. And I think cities and counties are going to have to devote additional resources to this problem if we’re going to see any real bending of the curve and getting things back to more normal days.

KOIN 6 News contacted the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for comment on the increase in auto thefts, but they declined.