Pierce Co. crooks are getting away with auto theft easily, authorities say

"It’s kind of that gut-wrenching feeling that you know they came into your personal world and your personal bubble and they got off scot-free, it’s very sickening helpless feeling."

It was around 5:30 am when Chanz Robinson and his wife heard his trucks engine turn on, and realized-someone was stealing it. 

"I grabbed my concealed weapon and took off in my vehicle and pursued after them."

Robinson sped off behind the thief, while calling 911 to give officers the car’s location.

"The cop got behind them, they ended up speeding up, with the new pursuit laws they couldn’t chase them so they ended up losing the vehicle."

In Washington State, a new law passed this year prevents officers from chasing a car just because it’s stolen. Vehicle pursuits are now reserved only for crimes that pose a public safety risk. If a cop tries to pull someone in a stolen car over and the driver doesn’t stop, the cop has to let him go. 

So Robinson took things into his own hands, taking to social media asking for people to be on the lookout for his truck, and it worked. The next day he got a tip about its location. But when deputies arrived, all but one suspect got away, and deputies felt there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him. But even if they did , it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. 

"When we arrest someone for stealing a car or being in possession of a stolen vehicle, right now you get released on the scene, so we have thieves that get caught multiple times in a row and they continue to commit the same crimes over and over again," says Sgt. Darren Moss of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. 

Sgt. Moss says that’s part of a policy to try to keep the jail population low during the pandemic. But he also says it’s undoubtedly contributing to the spike in theft. Last month alone, 796 cars were stolen, which is more than double that same time last year. 

Robinson says he knows officers hands are tied. "It’s just frustrating because they can’t do anything so we took it upon ourselves to do it and you’re going to see a lot of more of basically a vigilante upbringing if the laws continue to stay where they’re at."

Robinson got his truck back, but he doesn’t feel much better about the ordeal. "I would’ve preferred to see justice be served rather than have my truck back to be honest."

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