Murphy vows to place the brakes on N.J. automobile thefts with these new proposals

Likening it to a plague, Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday unveiled a set of measures he hopes will put the brakes on the surge of automobile thefts seen in New Jersey and elsewhere.

The Democratic governor, flanked by New Jersey’s two strongest state lawmakers, proposed 4 proposals he desires to the Democratic-controlled state Legislature approve. Murphy stated whereas there was progress in current months, extra must be achieved, noting the brazenness of lots of the thefts.

There have been 14,320 automobiles stolen in 2021, and thefts had been up 37% in comparison with final yr as of six months in the past and 53% in comparison with 2020.

“We expect we’ve began to bend the curve on the auto theft epidemic,” Murphy stated throughout a information convention on the State Police headquarters in West Trenton. “Progress is in the suitable path, however I feel we’re additionally right here immediately to acknowledge that we have to do extra.”

Murphy doesn’t should look removed from his entrance garden to see it’s an issue. The Middletown Police Division beefed up patrols in his upscale neighborhood in September after there was an tried automobile theft at his neighbor’s house.

The laws Murphy proposed has but to be launched. However in line with the governor’s workplace, the payments would:

  • Set up a persistent auto theft offender statute in New Jersey, which might give state and native prosecutors the choice to hunt extra severe prison penalties for many who have been repeatedly discovered responsible of stealing automobiles.
  • Make possession and distribution of sure auto theft instruments a criminal offense within the state.
  • Impose prison penalties for the failure to adjust to sure pointers within the sale and buy of catalytic converters within the state.

The state already invested tens of millions of {dollars} into license plate readers for police cruisers to rapidly spot stolen automobiles and revised police coverage to permit officers to make use of automobile chases to pursue auto thefts.

Murphy stated automobile thefts in September of this yr had been down 14% in comparison with the prior yr and thefts had been down 12% in October in comparison with October 2021. He credited the initiatives already put in place for the lower.

“We nonetheless have work to do, however we’ve reduce the rise by virtually two-thirds,” state Legal professional Normal Matthew Platkin stated. “We’re seeing a big decline within the pattern and I hope that after we’re getting collectively in a number of months’ time, we’re speaking a couple of year-over-year lower.

The laws is unlikely to face any hurdles in Trenton and already has the sturdy assist of state Senate President Nicholas Scutari and Meeting Speaker Craig Coughlin, who appeared alongside Murphy on Monday.

“That is one thing that all of us acknowledge and it’s necessary that all of us come right here collectively and communicate with one voice,” Coughlin, D-Middlesex, stated.

“You realize, these automobiles include locks,” Scutari, D-Union, quipped after describing how some thieves merely stroll by rows of automobiles to seek out one which’s unlocked.

Police have stated various thefts have been as a result of folks go away their automobiles unlocked with the important thing fobs within them. They’ve famous many luxurious automobiles robotically flip facet view mirrors in direction of the automobile after it’s parked and locked. Thieves know as a lot, so the mere sighting of a parked automobile with its mirrors prolonged is sufficient to stroll over and see it’s unlocked, they are saying.

Different makes an attempt to steal automobiles have been extra daring.

“We’ve seen a brazenness, lately, you possibly can grasp these keys up on that publish in your mudroom, that’s a reasonably straightforward spot to get to,” stated the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, Col. Patrick Callahan.

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Matt Arco could also be reached at Observe him on Twitter at @MatthewArco.

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