TRENTON – Senator Paul Sarlo, Senator Joe Lagana and Senator Vin Gopal have offered a wide ranging series of bills to combat the surge in auto thefts with tougher penalties, preventive measures and actions targeted at the car theft networks that have fueled the increase of stolen vehicles and related crimes.
The Senators said they will work together and with other legislators to craft a comprehensive legislative plan to counter what is an “auto theft crime wave” that impacts urban, suburban and rural communities in New Jersey.
Senator Sarlo said their work will include measures that will crack down on leaders and members of car theft networks, home burglaries of car keys and key fobs, and updates to bail laws to detain dangerous offenders, including auto theft crimes.
“The surge in auto thefts creates a threat to the safety and security of communities throughout New Jersey,” said Senator Sarlo, who also serves as Mayor of Wood-Ridge in Bergen County. “It calls for a comprehensive plan to crack down on offenders, to help prevent thefts and take down the criminal networks of car thieves. We will work together to advance and expand upon the bills already introduced to develop a legislative action plan on vehicle thefts.”
“When a person’s car is stolen, it wreaks havoc on their daily routine on top of the financial and emotional distress caused by such a personal violation. In New Jersey, the vast majority of residents depend on their cars to get back and forth to work, to get their kids to school, or to go wherever they need to be. We need to make sure would-be criminals know that justice will be swift,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic).
“The surge in auto-thefts over the past two years threatens the property and safety of New Jersey residents and places an added strain on law enforcement,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth) “It’s crucial we take action to deter car thieves while also providing additional support to the departments and officials working hard to curb this disturbing trend.”
There were 14,320 vehicles stolen in the state last year, with thefts up 22 percent over 2020. Law enforcement officials expect those numbers to climb even higher this year. The rise of thefts in New Jersey is part of a nationwide trend the National Insurance Crime Bureau has called “unprecedented.”