REDMOND, OR -- Redmond Police have seen a spike in reports of stolen cars, this month. One vehicle taken from Redmond earlier this week was recovered with two suspects asleep inside. Redmond Police Lt. Curtis Chambers says they’ve handled six cases already this month, "Five of which were stolen, one was recovered for another agency. That’s significant because we’re only halfway through the month where, on average, for the last 3.5 years, we’ve been at 6.5 stolen vehicles every month."
While it’s difficult to point to an exact reason behind the increase, Lt. Chambers says most are crimes of opportunity, likely involving unlocked vehicles, "Most individuals who are out stealing cars don’t want to chance breaking a window or taking the time it takes to wire up a car or use some other means, other than a key, to start the vehicle. Very few individuals are out targeting or trafficking stolen vehicles." The good news, he says, is that - unlike in the movies - many are eventually recovered with little or no damage, "Very rarely do we come across a stripped, burned out stolen vehicle; that does not happen very often." That's because many car thieves are either trying to get to another town, which leads to their recovery in other jurisdictions, or they want a joy-ride; in many cases, those vehicles are found disabled on the outskirts of town.
The bad news, according to Lt. Chambers, is that stopping repeat offenders is now more difficult. In 2014, an Appeals Court ruled that prosecutors must prove a suspect knew they were driving a stolen car. Chambers tells KBND News that makes it tough to earn a conviction for "Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle" without a confession, "If we can’t hold people accountable for a felony level crime and see them be convicted, ultimately, it becomes more and more difficult to get them to change their ways or force them to change their ways." The state Legislature considered a fix during the last session but it never made it to a vote. Chambers is hopeful it will pass in 2019.