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Is Stealing a Snowmobile Considered Auto Theft?

Posted Thursday, May 2, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

If a person steals a snowmobile, are they stealing a “motor vehicle” or just a lawn mower?

This was the issue before our state’s Division III Appellate Court. Stealing a motor vehicle in Washington is a class B felony. But is a snowmobile considered a “motor vehicle” for purposes of this statute?

In a prior decision, the Court ruled that a riding lawn mower was not a “motor vehicle” for purposes of this statute. In the case of State v. Barnes, the court held that a riding lawn mower was not a “motor vehicle” for purposes of the theft statute RCW 9A.56.065. A “Motor vehicle” was defined as “‘an automotive vehicle not operated on rails; especially one with rubber tires for use on highways.’”

Therefore, the Court held that because a snowmobile is not a car or other automobile, a snowmobile is not a motor vehicle for purposes of RCW 9A.56.065.

State of Washington v. Julia E. Tucker, No. 35530-6-III

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