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Gottheimer, DHS, NJ law enforcement convene auto theft and port security roundtable

Update on DHS Efforts to Combat Interstate, International Auto Theft Rings

NEW JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Wednesday joined with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Port Newark leadership, and state and local law enforcement for a roundtable discussion to receive an update from DHS on efforts to combat the massive surge in auto theft and carjackings.

CBP reported that thousands of the vehicles stolen or carjacked across the tristate area are being illegally exported to Africa from the United States through various terminals located in and around the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Car thefts are down 26% this year in New Jersey. This decrease can be attributed to new action by DHS at Port Newark, the tireless work of local, county, state, and federal law enforcement, efforts to publicize the issue, and new partnerships, resources, and improved information sharing.

Ongoing Auto Theft Issues in New Jersey:

  • In 2022, there were more than 15,000 vehicles reported stolen in New Jersey — an increase compared to the same time in 2021.
  • 2021 stolen vehicle statistics were already up from 2020.
  • In 2022, Bergen County saw a more than 50% increase in car thefts.
  • In January 2023, there were about 1,176 vehicles reported stolen, which is slightly less than the 1,517 stolen vehicles from a year prior in January 2022.
  •  According to recovered vehicle statistics, at Port Newark, 80% of vehicles are recovered or chopped up and 20% are attempted to be exported. It is likely that there are more vehicles being illegally exported and are never recovered.

Gottheimer shared DHS’s roundtable update on its efforts to combat interstate and international auto theft at the ports:

  • Homeland Security Investigations at Port Newark created an Auto Export Crimes Task Force.
  • DHS and CBP have increased partnerships and information sharing with other agencies and local and state law enforcement.
  • Intelligence teams at Port Newark are successfully determining which containers to examine for stolen vehicles.
  • Intelligence mechanisms include X-ray technology and examining manifestos for inconsistent container weights.

Gottheimer’s actions to combat the surge in auto theft:

  • Since July 2022, Gottheimer has called for better coordination and tougher action from DHS, specifically CBP, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to stop the steady stream of cars flowing into containers and onto ships right here at the Port and heading overseas.
  • In July 2022, Gottheimer called on the Administration to create a new National Auto Theft Task Force to coordinate federal, state, and local law enforcement efforts focused on combating interstate and international carjacking and auto theft. He also urged DHS to boost security at ports to intercept more stolen cars before they are loaded into containers and shipped overseas.
  • In November 2022, Gottheimer pressed Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas on auto theft when the Secretary was before Congress. Mayorkas agreed that this was “clearly a homeland security issue” that had to be addressed.
  • Today, Gottheimer called for more resources at the port to fight auto theft and other crimes, including increased investment in manpower, equipment, and technology.

“Jersey law enforcement is working overtime in our towns and cities to capture the criminals, and the coordination within the state deserves our praise. I’m grateful that DHS took the time today to brief us on their efforts to crack down on auto theft. It’s important that the public knows that federal action is being taken against auto theft here at the port, in our state, and internationally,” Gottheimer said. “Thanks to some of the efforts we were just briefed on, the phenomenal work of local, county, state, and federal law enforcement, and because of our efforts to publicize the issue, the numbers of auto thefts in Jersey have dropped in recent months.”

“Until we cut off the head of the snake, the criminal masterminds here in the U.S. and overseas, we will never truly succeed in shutting down this massive criminal ring. The bottom line is we need more resources for broadband, more X-ray equipment, and more manpower for CBP and DHS at our ports,” Gottheimer said.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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