WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Citing vehicle theft data from the Washington State Patrol, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) issued a press release this week that notes the number of vehicles reported stolen statewide year-to-date and compared with same months in 2021 have increased about 90%, nearly double.
• Vehicle thefts have increased 88 percent year-to-date for 2022 compared to 2021 through the end of March.Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (April 13, 2022)
• Vehicle thefts have increased 99 percent for March 2022 compared to March 2021
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, in an April 15th press release, noted “the number of motor vehicles reported stolen countywide in Whatcom County exceeds statewide increases.”
- Vehicle thefts have increased 331% year-to-date for 2022 compared to 2021
- Vehicle thefts have increased 600% for March 2022 compared to March 2021
That same press release provided the following monthly totals of vehicle thefts reported throughout Whatcom County (unincorporated and incorporated areas included) which reflects even greater increases comparing 2021 with 2022.
In the WCSO press release, Sheriff Bill Elfo says the increases can be attributed to 2021 legislation that prohibits law enforcement from pursuing stolen vehicles and inadequate jail space “that has resulted in an inability to hold most property crime offenders in custody.”
WASPC Executive Director Steve Strachan is quoted in the WASPC press release, “The data show what our law enforcement and communities are seeing out there every day—the word is out and criminals know what they can do under our current laws.”
The police reform laws limiting when law enforcement could use force, including pursuing and detaining suspects, went into effect on July 25, 2021.
The Washington State Senate and House of Representatives passed two bills in the 2022 session that restored law enforcement’s authority to use force in certain situations. These include, “to protect against a criminal offense when there is probable cause that a person has committed or is committing [a crime]” and when a subject flees while in “temporary investigative detention.” These were signed by Governor Inslee in March and immediately went into effect.