MORRIS COUNTY — Representatives Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and Don Bacon (NE-2) introduced the Auto Theft Prevention Act. This bipartisan legislation will provide state and local law enforcement agencies with federal grant funding to help them combat auto thefts and stolen vehicle trafficking. According to State Police data, 14,320 cars were reported stolen in 2021 in New Jersey. That is a 22% rise in car thefts from 2020. By August 2022, 9,000 cars were stolen. That is expected to rise to 17,000 by the end of the year.
“Motor vehicle theft is a growing public safety issue. Not only are members of our community having cars stolen, but their sense of safety and security is being stolen, as well,” “In response to alarming trends across the state and many conversations with concerned residents, police chiefs, prosecutors, and mayors in NJ-11, I introduced commonsense legislation to give our law enforcement the tools needed to curb these auto thefts and make our neighborhoods safer. As a former federal prosecutor, I am committed to making sure our local police departments have the resources needed to strengthen community safety and build trust in our towns and cities.”
“Local law enforcement, including those in our district, need the technology and top-notch equipment to track and catch car thieves quickly and efficiently,” said Rep. Bacon. “I’m glad to lead this legislation with Rep. Sherrill and believe this grant program will not only combat the rise in auto thefts but will help deter future crimes and show criminals they won’t be able to get away with robbing the community.”
This legislation will create a new competitive grant program within the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to fund state and local law enforcement efforts to combat auto thefts. In addition, the legislation creates a new eligible use of funds within the existing COPS grant program that allows police departments to use funds on new equipment, hiring, and compensation to help combat auto thefts. It is designed to direct funding to areas of the country that are most impacted by a rise in auto thefts.
Grants can be used by police departments to purchase equipment used to combat auto theft, such as law enforcement vehicles and license plate readers, hire additional law enforcement officers and support staff, fund overtime costs and additional compensation for law enforcement officers and support staff, provide resources for joint task forces, and fund law enforcement data collection and research activities related to combating auto theft.
The legislation has been endorsed by the National Troopers Coalition, International Union of Police Associations, New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association, and New Jersey Association of Counties. Original cosponsors of the bill include Reps. Salud Carbajal, Angie Craig, Josh Gottheimer, Andy Kim, and David Trone.
New Jersey’s Attorney General has published information on best practices to keep your vehicle safe, which can be found here. Important tips to prevent vehicle theft include:
- Never leaving your keys or key fob in your vehicle
- Not leaving your vehicle running while unattended
- Parking your car in well-lit areas
- Ensuring all windows are closed
- Hiding your valuables
- Making sure all doors are locked