New Jersey Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin announced on Friday that police officers will now be able to pursue stolen vehicles, undoing a recent policy change that forced cops to let car thieves escape. Platkin said the change is being made due to a surge in car thefts across the state.
The Attorney General’s Office recently barred police from chasing stolen vehicles because “Engaging in dangerous, high-speed police pursuits puts police officers, innocent third-party motorists, and pedestrians at substantial risk of injuries and fatalities,” a spokesperson for the AG said.
The State has seen a serious spike in motor vehicle theft since the pandemic’s onset, an all-time high of 14,320 vehicles in 2021 in comparison to the previous five years. The first quarter of 2022 is on track to have a 53% increase in motor vehicle thefts from 2020.
Increases in motor vehicle theft have occurred across the state, in both suburban and urban areas. Stolen cars are frequently associated with other violent crimes, particularly shootings. A significant percentage of individuals who commit auto theft offenses have also been involved in shootings.
Many have blamed the rise in car thefts directly to the policy that prohibited police officers from chasing them.