NEW JERSEY – In an effort to tackle the Garden State’s rise in car thefts, the Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced a pair of bills this week sponsored by Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn and Assemblyman Ned Thomson that stiffen penalties for juvenile offenders and repeat criminals.
“New Jersey cannot properly address the increase in car thefts without discussing the impact of bail reform or the recruitment of juveniles to carry out crimes,” Flynn (R-Monmouth) said. “Right now, car thieves know that this administration is simply slapping them on the wrist, so they are willing to go out and commit more crimes. New Jersey needs to take a tougher approach to protect residents from becoming victims and young people from a life of crime.”
From 2020 to 2022, car thefts increased by about 34%. New Jersey State Police estimate that more than 15,600 cars were stolen last year. They also report that car theft rings are paying minors to participate in the crimes, because juveniles face less serious charges if caught.
“New Jersey needs to rework the justice system, because it is supporting career criminals and doing little to keep kids from repeating a cycle that will ultimately land them in jail,” Thomson (R-Monmouth) said. “The state must empower the courts to put a stop to the revolving door of car thieves.”
Under the first piece of legislation (A5187), a court would be permitted to order a juvenile to a home detention program for a motor vehicle theft.
The second measure (A5189) rolls back bail reform measures to detain defendants charged with or convicted of an auto theft multiple times within 30 days. Criminal courts are currently only authorized to order a defendant to be detained while awaiting trial for murder, crimes carrying life imprisonment sentences, or if they are found to be a flight risk, danger to the community or likely to obstruct criminal proceedings.
“These are common sense steps that prioritize public safety in every New Jersey community,” Flynn and Thomson said.