The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has joined a number of law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and public officials in support of a bill to close a loophole that has limited police in Oregon from arresting and prosecuting suspected car thieves.
Between 2012 and 2017, vehicle thefts increased by more than 53 percent in Oregon, according to NICB’s Annual Hot Spots Report. That compares to an overall national increase of less than 11 percent based on data from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
The sharp increase in Oregon’s vehicle thefts began following two notable Court of Appeals’ cases that, based on their interpretation of existing state statute, raised the bar to an extremely difficult standard necessary to secure a conviction against an alleged car thief.
A new bill-HB 2328-was created to close the loopholes in the law to ensure Oregon is not a haven for car thieves. The bill modifies language dealing with the “culpable mental state for crime of unauthorized use of a vehicle when person takes, operates, exercises control over or otherwise uses vehicle, boat or aircraft without consent of owner.”
Currently, suspects can claim they were not knowingly operating a vehicle without the owners’ consent and avoid charges.
“Sometimes criminals are able to take advantage of the law and that’s what has been happening in Oregon,” said Joe Wehrle, NICB president and CEO. “This bill will eliminate the loophole that has limited law enforcement’s efforts to fight vehicle theft, and will put thieves back on notice that they can no longer steal a car and walk away from justice.”