Jeff Humphrey

Putting the Brakes on Auto Theft

Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 9:39 a.m.

Topping Spokane’s legislative priorities for 2019, the Mayor and City Council are asking for community supervision for habitual car thieves once they are released from custody.

Community supervision can require that offenders submit to periodic drug screenings, drug rehabilitation programs and have no contact with other convicted felons.

“Washington State is the only state in the country that does not have property crimes supervision,” lamented Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl.

Offenders who violate the conditions of their community supervision can be taken back into custody, but in 2008, state budget cuts eliminated probation for convicted thieves and helped to drive crimes like auto theft out of control.

“The number of repeat offenders that we are experiencing, who are committing property crimes, are absolutely crushing this community with the crimes they are committing,” Meidl complained.

That's why the Mayor and City Council are asking the state legislature to fund a pilot program. The proposal would place habitual car thieves like Nick Davis under community supervision the next time Davis is released from prison.

Davis has 222 arrests and has 14 previous felony convictions.

“The lack of supervision for these offenders when they are released, if not encouraging them, it's allowing them to go back to the lifestyle that they've had,” warned Meidl.

The Chief claims that drug-addicted, no rules lifestyle is hurting the rest of us.

“When someone comes out in the morning and their vehicle is gone, they can't go to work. They can't take their kids to school. When we get behind a stolen vehicle, these people have no incentive to stop,” Meidl said of the thieves who lead police on dangerous pursuits.

So now, police are hoping they can at least slow down the number of cars getting swiped by tracking convicted, habitual car thieves as soon as they’re out of custody.

“What property crimes supervision does is provide a level of accountability; to get out of the drug world, to stay away from friends who are a bad influence. As well as an incentive for them to get their life back on track,” said Meidl.

Watching over convicted car thieves will require more funding from the state legislature, but the police chief thinks we need a new way of putting the brakes on Spokane’s car theft problem.

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