Vehicle thefts increased more than 53% in Oregon between 2012 and 2017 — compared to 11% nationwide — and now a new bill supported by public officials and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) aims to reverse the trend.
HB 2328 intends to close a loophole that has hampered law enforcement officials in the state from arresting and prosecuting car thieves.
Data shows that the sharp rise in Oregon's vehicle thefts began following two notable appellate court cases that raised the bar to an extremely high standard needed to secure a conviction against an alleged car thief.
The bill has gained widespread support among law enforcement, prosecutors and state officials. It would modify existing language dealing with the "culpable mental state for the crime of unauthorized use of a vehicle when a person takes, operates, exercises control over, or otherwise uses a vehicle, boat, or aircraft without consent of the owner."
Presently, suspects can take advantage of a loophole and avoid being charged by claiming they were not knowingly operating a vehicle without the owners' consent.
Vehicle theft remains a problem nationwide. In 2016, a total of 765,484 vehicles were stolen across the country. In 2017, a vehicle was stolen once every 40 seconds in the U.S., according to the NICB.