During questioning of New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin during the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday, Senator Declan O’Scanlon addressed the alarming spike in stolen cars in the state.
Noting that incidents of auto theft in Monmouth County are up 66 percent in the past four years, O’Scanlon told the A.G. that thieves recently targeted his own car.
“There was an attempt to steal my car out of my driveway a couple of months ago and it led to a limited ‘chase,’ but the guys got away. They didn’t get away with my car, thank goodness,” said O’Scanlon.
The escalating crisis has been the topic of frequent discussions between the Senator, local mayors, and Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. And O’Scanlon said their concerns go well beyond lost cars.
“Aside from lost cars, there’s a much broader safety issue at stake here. The attempted theft of my car was at 8 p.m., when any of my family members could have encountered these thieves. An encounter like that easily could lead to violence. Other thefts are happening during broad daylight. It is imperative that we deter these activities before we’re dealing with inevitable violent escalation.”
As a result of his own experience and incidents throughout his district, O’Scanlon discussed the issue with the acting Attorney General back in February.
“He was very receptive and shared my concerns. He promised there would be substantive policy modifications out of his office to address the issue. I’m happy the first of those steps was announced on Friday. Police pursuit of stolen cars has been reauthorized after having been prohibited by the previous AG. The goal of course isn’t to foster more high-speed chases, which themselves are a threat to public safety, but to let these thieves know they will be apprehended and punished, and to deter them from committing these crimes in the first place.
“The effort won’t stop here. We’ve already been discussing policy reforms that will address not just car thefts but trends in broader categories of crimes,” said O’Scanlon. “It’s time we take a look at previous juvenile justice reforms and bail reform to assess what has worked and what needs tweaking. We will include the AG, prosecutors, Monmouth County Sheriff Golden, police, and the judiciary in these policy discussions which have already begun.”
O’Scanlon added that the Federal government also has a responsibility to reverse the growing crime problem.
“This requires a multi-pronged effort,” said the Senator. “The Feds have to step up and go attack the root cause, the organized car theft rings that are stealing cars and shipping them out of the country. These criminals are running their illegal enterprises on the backs of under-aged New Jersey kids who are recruited to do their dirty work. The Federal government needs to help shut these operations down.”