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Fighting auto theft – The Link News

By Vin GopaI- Last year, 14,320 vehicles were reported stolen in New Jersey.

This is a 22% increase from 2020, when car thefts also increased from the previous year, according to state police, and more than 9,000 cars were stolen so far. in July this year. According to police sources, the number could reach 17,000 by the end of the year. It’s part of a nationwide trend that the National Insurance Crime Bureau describes as “unprecedented.”

In Monmouth County, thieves stole 158 vehicles in the first three months of this year, and there was a more than 110% increase in high-end auto thefts, according to the county sheriff’s office. of Monmouth.

The surge in car thefts is even more alarming when you consider that the thefts are committed by gang-run car theft rings that recruit children and teenagers to carry out the crimes. These are not crimes of convenience. Car theft rings are organized, they are professional criminals and they operate with sophistication and speed. Too often, stolen cars end up being used in crimes.

That’s why I’ve teamed up with Newark Congresswoman Shanique Speight to sponsor two bills that would toughen penalties for car thieves and boost prevention efforts across the state. Car theft rings also strain law enforcement resources.

The first of two bills, which I introduced in August, would establish an Auto Theft Prevention Authority and allocate $2 million to operate it. Several states have already established successful auto theft authorities, which bring together law enforcement officers, prosecutors, insurance representatives and general members to discuss best practices, create rules and coordinate statewide prevention efforts. States with auto theft prevention authorities report that they have helped create flexibility for law enforcement resources and generate a more timely and targeted response to auto theft trends and developments. cars.

The second bill would increase penalties for minors and adults convicted of auto theft and related crimes, as well as harsher penalties for adults who hire minors to commit the crime. Teenagers are attractive participants in organized car circles because they are less likely to serve jail time when caught. I share MP Speight’s belief that we can toughen penalties and provide the necessary rehabilitation pathways for minors involved in car theft to turn their lives around, while discouraging adults from recruiting teenagers into car theft rings. .

Residents must also act to reduce car theft by making it harder for thieves to steal their cars. Often stolen cars are keyless entry models whose owners leave the key fob that opens the door and allows the car to be started in the car. It’s almost like asking a thief to steal it. Some keyless entry cars even tell thieves that the key fob is inside because the side mirrors automatically fold down when the key fob is removed from the vehicle.

You can also take action by signing our petition at supporting the legislation and letting other lawmakers know you want action to stop auto theft in New Jersey.

In the meantime, let’s all make sure we take precautions like locking our cars, never leaving them running, and not leaving anything visible inside that might tempt a thief. I urge parents to emphasize these precautions if they have new drivers in the home. Working with law enforcement and staying vigilant will go a long way in keeping our cars where we leave them and making our state safer from auto theft.