MIDDLETOWN, NJ – A brazen attempt to break into a garage and make off with a costly Land Rover in an upscale Middletown neighborhood accentuated the growing auto theft crisis that is spreading across the state.
That the targeted property was next door to Governor Murphy’s family estate made the incident newsworthy, but it is hardly unique. At the current pace, more than 17,000 vehicles will be stolen in New Jersey this year.
“Enough is enough,” said an exasperated Senator Anthony M. Bucco, the sponsor of legislation that would give law enforcement new tools to fight an epidemic of car thefts.
“In broad daylight, criminals drove into the neighborhood with one purpose – stealing that car,” said Bucco (R-25). “Every city, every community, every street is at risk and the problem just keeps getting worse and worse. It is obvious that what we are doing is not working.”
The bipartisan legislation sponsored by Bucco and Democrat Senator Richard J. Codey, S-3006, would increase penalties for those stealing or receiving vehicles, as well as those who recruit juveniles to do so.
“My bill has support from both sides of the aisle in Trenton, and it has been endorsed by the prosecutors’ offices in both Republican and Democrat counties,” Bucco noted. “Car thefts have been increasing by more than 20 percent annually for years now, and something must be done.
“Once the Legislature returns to the Statehouse, we should get to work immediately, advancing this bill and sending it to the Governor’s desk.”
In addition, the bill would expand penalties for those convicted of motor vehicle theft or receiving a stolen motor vehicle and subject repeat offenders to the possibility of an extended jail terms.
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