Paying $10 Extra On Traffic Tickets Could Mean Fewer Car Thefts in Washington - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Paying $10 Extra On Traffic Tickets Could Mean Fewer Car Thefts in Washington

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- The numbers speak for themselves. In Kennewick car thefts were down to 159 in 2007, from 174 in 2006.

The Kennewick police chief says some of the good news can be credited to the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority.

"Collectively the chiefs and sheriffs in Washington state were trying to do things to do something to push down that auto theft problem," said Ken Hohenberg, Kennewick Police Chief.

A problem that ranks some Washington cities among the top in the country.

"Yakima actually ranks in the top 10 nationally," said Jim LaMunyon, Executive Director for WATPA.

The authority has only been around for a little over a year. The law effective since July 1st 2007. It works in the form of a fund, based on a $10 fee added to all traffic tickets.

"One of the main things we do as an authority is provide financial assistance to the local jurisdictions, so that they can combat auto thefts in their areas," said LaMunyon.

Money that in the last fiscal year was more than $4 million. Most of the money goes to crime analysts and bait cars for police operations. But also to help potential victims.

"A portion of the money also goes to help educate folks about how not to become a victim of having their car stolen," said Hohenberg.

A theft that could go beyond a property crime.

"We've seen people that have been killed by those that are driving stolen vehicles," said LaMunyon.

In Washington there's no way out of paying the extra $10, or maybe one.

"There's an easy way for an individual to avoid paying that 10 dollars, and that's not to violate our traffic laws in the first place," said LaMunyon.

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