On December 5, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee heard testimony from New Jersey State Police Major Larry Williams, Deputy Attorney General Joseph Giordano, and Alexander Shalom, Senior Supervising Attorney and Director of Supreme Court Advocacy from ACLU, concerning the increase in motor vehicle thefts in New Jersey over the last two years.
During the testimony, Giordano provided background on prosecuting car thefts over the past 10 years.
Williams reported that there have been over 14,000 vehicles stolen year to date in New Jersey, an 9% increase over the past year. Vehicles with a value over $30,000 are the highest risk target for theft, and most of the stolen vehicles are shipped overseas. Vehicle thieves make an average of $8,000 to 12,000 a day for these thefts, which are typically organized and executed by small groups of individuals.
The ACLU’s Shalom touched on separating car theft from regular theft, increasing penalties, and encouraging elected officials to focus on bail reform to help address the uptick in crime and help youth avoid a criminal path.
Both Giordano and Williams noted that most car thefts are crimes of opportunity where key fobs have been left in vehicles, adding that the best ways to prevent these crimes are for individuals to lock their cars when unattended and not to leave their key fobs in their cars.
The Committee heard several bills to address the uptick of car thefts in New Jersey, and the following bills were heard and released from committee:
A2210 – Implements certain guidelines concerning the purchase of catalytic converters.
A3666 – Increases penalties for carjacking and theft of motor vehicle.
A4930 – Expands criminal penalties related to illegal use of motor vehicle master key.
A4931 – Establishes crimes of theft of motor vehicle and receiving stolen motor vehicle as separate statutory provisions, extended sentences for certain persistent offenders.
The League strongly supports legislation that creates additional measures to combat theft of catalytic converters and car thefts. We will continue to monitor legislation as these bills progress through the legislative process.
Contact: Andrew LaFevre, Legislative Analyst, email@example.com, 609-695-3481, x116.