To address the ongoing rash of auto theft in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy announced his support for pending legislation to address the problem, as well as revealing new plans to help stop car thieves in their tracks.
The move comes after growing frustration and criticism from Republicans whom Murphy accused last week of stoking racial hostility by complaining about the crime.
On Monday, Senator Michael Testa, Republican of Cumberland, called Murphy’s agenda a “mind-boggling pro-criminal.”
During a press conference at State Police Headquarters in Ewing on Monday, Murphy said he will sign an ongoing auto theft offense law into law once it is passed by the legislature.
This will give prosecutors expanded options to seek tougher criminal consequences for repeat auto thefts, the governor said.
He also indicated his support for legislation that would make the possession and distribution of certain auto theft tools a crime, and a measure that would require anyone trying to sell a catalytic converter to provide papers proving they are the rightful owner of the equipment.
The governor also said his administration would expand investment in improved pre-trial services, to reduce risks from individuals awaiting trial, including “pre-trial surveillance, expanding the use of house arrest coupled with site monitoring, and providing additional resources related to drug use, mental health” and insecurity. residential for defendants who may need such services.”
He emphasized that this would reduce the possibility of them committing another crime.
Murphy said he’s also directing the Automobile Commission to explore including all vehicle registration papers “a check box that would allow residents to participate in a program that, in the event of a vehicle theft, would automatically allow law enforcement access to the interior of the Navigator.”
The idea, he said, was to “help track and retrieve it before it can be shopped or put into the merchandise warehouse for overseas shipment.”
The governor said MVC will also focus on messaging the importance of handling keychains securely, because while this might sound like simple logic, “the reality is that many car thefts are made easier to pull off because car owners simply have or left their keychain by mistake. In the car “.
He also reminded New Jersey residents to keep their doors closed, so thieves can’t get in, locate the key on a hook next to the door, grab it and take off.
Murphy noted that while car thefts increased over the past year, they decreased by 14% in September compared to September of 2021, and car thefts in October decreased by 12%.
When asked why car thefts are on the rise, Murphy said “it’s probably like a lot of other things – to some extent related to the mental health stresses from this pandemic I think.”
Testa said Murphy’s “soft stance on crime has helped fuel the current wildfires for auto thefts in the state.”
“From opening doors and letting convicted criminals out, to handcuffing police and preventing them from detaining minors with marijuana or alcohol, Trenton encouraged bad actors and handcuffed good guys,” he said. Is it any wonder that the local police in the cities feel neglected and powerless? “
Testa said Republicans have introduced measures that have weakened in the Democratic-controlled legislature. Someone might expand the legal definition of “riot” in order to apply it to this summer’s deadly and illegal motor rally at Wildwood.
“We have dozens of crime-fighting bills ready for legislative action, but the Democratic majority has been slow to get these bills to a vote,” Testa said. New Jerseyans are tired of the slow and lazy policy toward criminals. Safe streets are not a partisan luxury. They are something that all of the Garden State families desire.”
In order to put an end to auto theft, Attorney General Matt Platkin said we are deploying every possible tool, innovative legislation, technology investments, and traditional application. Public safety will always be our top priority.”
Having additional resources to combat auto theft is pivotal, said Col. Pat Callahan, the superintendent of state police.
“This is a top priority for law enforcement, eliminating organized car theft episodes and preventing young people from being involved in this type of crime, and we are making progress. With the public’s help, we will continue to do so.”
David Mathew, New Jersey Reporter 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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