OLYMPIA, Wash. — The state of Washington now ranks third in the nation for the highest number of car thefts in 2022, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Around 45,000 cars were stolen across the state last year, according to the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority. That’s 45% more than the year before.
The president of the Northwest Insurance Council said Washington's dramatic uptick in auto thefts is now proving expensive for every driver -- even ones whose cars aren’t being stolen.
"They're all contributing to higher insurance premiums," said Kenton Brine, president of the Northwest Insurance Council, "because it's costing insurers more to repair and replace vehicles that are stolen or damaged. And the rates of those thefts are going up. So as those things cost more, those costs inevitably, unfortunately, are passed on to consumers in the form of higher insurance premiums. We'd like to get those under control. And it starts with getting auto theft under control."
But you don’t have to tell Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap Peninsula. She is cosponsoring a bill, Senate Bill 5672, that passed the Senate unanimously.
“Car thefts are going up. And we're all impacted by that," said Rolfes.
SB 5672 would put $7 million each year into the state's Auto Theft Prevention Account.
"Used mostly by local governments to beef up their auto theft enforcement, their auto theft prevention," said Rolfes.
She is hoping this also ends up "solving a lot of other crime problems.”
Her constituents, she said, complain of break-ins to small businesses where the intruders use stolen cars.
"They're being stolen and then used to commit crimes and then ditched," said Rolfes.
The House will hear the bill on Thursday at 4 p.m. Brine said in the meantime, it's best to protect yourself against vehicle theft.
"Always lock your vehicle and keep your keys with you," said Brine.