State v. Smith (1992)
In State v. Smith, 831 P.2d 1082 (Wash. 1992) (en banc), Mr. Smith burglarized a bank and tripped three surveillance cameras which then photographed different areas of the bank.
The bank incurred costs for the use of technicians who worked on the cameras and for the development and replacement of the film. 831 P.2d at 1083.
The court ordered Mr. Smith to pay restitution to the bank for those costs. The applicable statute required in pertinent part:
"'Restitution ordered by a court pursuant to a criminal conviction shall be based on easily ascertainable damages for injury to or loss of property.'" Id. at 1084 (quoting former RCW 9.94A.142(1)).
The Washington Supreme Court held the funds spent by the bank were "property" that was lost as a direct result of the crime and, therefore, the award of restitution was proper. Id.
In that situation, Mr. Smith's criminal conduct--burglary--was a proximate cause of the costs incurred to investigate the crime.