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Budget Committee Moves Lagana Bill Eliminating Pretrial Release in Certain Vehicle Theft Cases

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Trenton — Legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Lagana that would eliminate the presumption of pretrial release for defendants charged with certain motor vehicle theft offenses if the defendant was arrested or convicted of a prior motor vehicle theft offense within the 90-day-period preceding the charge, was released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.


Since the COVID-19 Pandemic began to wane, crime has generally increased relative to pandemic and pre-pandemic crime rates. Motor vehicle thefts are no exception, with State Police data showing a 22 percent rise from 2020 to 2021. 2021 saw a total of 14,405 vehicles stolen, whereas in 2020 that number was only 11,770.


“Sad to say, but the rate of car thefts in our state remains stubbornly high, while sophisticated car theft rings continue to plague our communities,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill is another piece of legislation we have offered in an attempt to safeguard our neighborhoods, aid law enforcement, and to see the worst of these offenders brought to justice.


Final 2022 data has yet to be released, but State Police projected in December of 2022 that 15,644 cars would be stolen by the end of the year.


The bill, S-3777, passed committee by a vote of 12-0.