A progressive Seattle City Council Member who previously voted to defund the police and advocated for looters claimed in a recent interview that she had no idea that stolen cars were being used to smash through storefronts as the city grapples with record-high auto thefts and stories of stolen cars used in smash and grab dominate the local headlines.
Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales said in a recent interview with KOMO News reporter Jeremy Harris when asked about stolen cars used as battering rams to break into Seattle stores, “I haven't heard that these stolen cars are being used for smash and grab.”
The councilmember represents south Seattle, an area that has been hit particularly hard by this type of crime.
Many in Seattle’s District 2 used the quote to point out how Morales, who in 2020 advocated for looters, is out of touch with her constituents and ignores emails, calls, and comments from her district.
Harris said in the report, “It happens every day. Kia's and Hyundai's stolen and used to fuel crime.”
In 2021, Washington’s Democrat-controlled legislature banned many forms of police pursuits including stolen vehicles in response to the BLM and Antifa riots that rocked the Seattle area in 2020.
Suspects fleeing police spiked by the thousands following the passage of the original bill. One criminal even called 911 to cite the legislation as a reason for police to stop pursuing him.
According to KOMO News, through Nov. 30 the Seattle Police Department recorded 8,379 car thefts in the city, a 34 percent increase from 2022 and a 75 percent jump from 2021's figures.
King 5 reported that Kia and Hyundai vehicles were the most common types of cars stolen in Seattle in 2023.
When asked by Harris if there should be stiffer penalties for people who steal these cars, Morales, who is opposed to youth detention and incarceration, said “Well, I think there are penalties for car theft and those should be, uh, you know, they should be, folks who steal 'em should be held accountable.”
On Wednesday, Morales, who voted to defund the Seattle police leading to a massive officer exodus, joined other councilmembers from across the US who are calling on the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) to issue a recall of Kias and Hyundais due to “thousands of thefts,” blaming the automakers for making cars that are vulnerable to theft.
Harris also asked Morales, “Do you think the lack of deterrent from getting caught or not being chased, do you think that plays into the decision by some of these young folks to steal these cars?”
The lotting advocate replied, “Well, I won't speak to the motivation of young people, uh, except to say that they are young people. Um, and when issued a challenge, especially on something like social media, they like to take it up.”
Last January, Seattle became the first city in the US to file a lawsuit against the auto manufacturers to recover damages from the thefts.