TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee considered and cleared several bills tackling the rise in car thefts in the Garden State on Monday, including two sponsored by Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn that would crack down on 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. “Car thieves don’t care if their targets are at home, if it is broad daylight or if they are ruining a minor’s future. They have become more and more brazen and because the administration is currently only slapping them on the wrist, they are willing to go out and commit more crimes.”
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.
Flynn’s first bill (A5187) allows a court to order a juvenile to a home detention program for motor vehicle thefts.
“Getting kids off the streets and monitoring their behavior will help stop the delinquent cycle and support the ultimate goal of preventing them from entering a correctional facility when they are older,” Flynn added.
Her other bill (A5189) rolls back bail reform measures to ensure defendants charged with or convicted of an auto theft multiple times within 30 days would be detained while awaiting trial. 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.
“While I think bail reform measures were well-intentioned to give poorer residents the same opportunity as people who could come up with cash, the system has unfortunately helped establish career criminals,” Flynn said. “Repeat car thieves should be sitting behind bars not looking for their next victim.”