| Findings -- Intent -- 2007 c 199: "(1) The legislature finds that:|
(a) Automobiles are an essential part of our everyday lives. The west coast is the only region of the United States with an increase of over three percent in motor vehicle thefts over the last several years. The family car is a priority of most individuals and families. The family car is typically the second largest investment a person has next to the home, so when a car is stolen, it causes a significant loss and inconvenience to people, imposes financial hardship, and negatively impacts their work, school, and personal activities. Appropriate and meaningful penalties that are proportionate to the crime committed must be imposed on those who steal motor vehicles;
(b) In Washington, more than one car is stolen every eleven minutes, one hundred thirty-eight cars are stolen every day, someone's car has a one in one hundred seventy-nine chance of being stolen, and more vehicles were stolen in 2005 than in any other previous year. Since 1994, auto theft has increased over fifty-five percent, while other property crimes like burglary are on the decline or holding steady. The national crime insurance bureau reports that Seattle and Tacoma ranked in the top ten places for the most auto thefts, ninth and tenth respectively, in 2004. In 2005, over fifty thousand auto thefts were reported costing Washington citizens more than three hundred twenty-five million dollars in higher insurance rates and lost vehicles. Nearly eighty percent of these crimes occurred in the central Puget Sound region consisting of the heavily populated areas of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties;
(c) Law enforcement has determined that auto theft, along with all the grief it causes the immediate victims, is linked more and more to offenders engaged in other crimes. Many stolen vehicles are used by criminals involved in such crimes as robbery, burglary, and assault. In addition, many people who are stopped in stolen vehicles are found to possess the personal identification of other persons, or to possess methamphetamine, precursors to methamphetamine, or equipment used to cook methamphetamine;
(d) Juveniles account for over half of the reported auto thefts with many of these thefts being their first criminal offense. It is critical that they, along with first time adult offenders, are appropriately punished for their crimes. However, it is also important that first time offenders who qualify receive appropriate counseling treatment for associated problems that may have contributed to the commission of the crime, such as drugs, alcohol, and anger management; and
(e) A coordinated and concentrated enforcement mechanism is critical to an effective statewide offensive against motor vehicle theft. Such a system provides for better communications between and among law enforcement agencies, more efficient implementation of efforts to discover, track, and arrest auto thieves, quicker recovery, and the return of stolen vehicles, saving millions of dollars in potential loss to victims and their insurers.
(2) It is the intent of this act to deter motor vehicle theft through a statewide cooperative effort by combating motor vehicle theft through tough laws, supporting law enforcement activities, improving enforcement and administration, effective prosecution, public awareness, and meaningful treatment for first time offenders where appropriate. It is also the intent of the legislature to ensure that adequate funding is provided to implement this act in order for real, observable reductions in the number of auto thefts in Washington state." [2007 c 199 § 1.]
Short title -- 2007 c 199: "This act shall be known as the Elizabeth Nowak-Washington auto theft prevention act." [2007 c 199 § 29.]