TRENTON, N.J. – In response to the statewide spike in motor vehicle thefts, Assemblywomen Kim Eulner and Marilyn Piperno introduced a package of legislation to combat crime through increased penalties and stiffer sentencing.
“We believe the issue must be addressed legislatively and demand enhanced penalties for criminals charged with these crimes,” said Eulner (R-Monmouth). “To that end, we have introduced legislation dedicated to keeping these lawbreakers behind bars and off our streets. All four bills are targeted to confront this egregious criminal epidemic.”
Under the assemblywomen’s legislation, a person charged with the theft of a motor vehicle who also caused or created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person would be subject to pretrial detention.
Year-over-year, auto thefts are up by 22% in New Jersey. In 2021, 14,320 vehicles were reported stolen and a state police analysis shows a strong connection between those crimes and violence.
“We are appalled at the rising level of auto thefts and home invasions confronting surrounding communities,” said Piperno (R-Monmouth). “The revolving door of criminal behavior must end, and these violent criminals must be stopped.”
Two other bills in the package would upgrade auto theft offenses to a second-degree crime if a car was driven in a manner that created a risk of injury to any person or property damage or the vehicle was valued at $25,000 or more (currently it’s $75,000).
A fourth bill would amend New Jersey’s joyriding statute to upgrade the charge for the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle without consent to a third-degree crime. If the act created a risk of injury to any person or a risk of damage, it would become a second-degree crime.
Shrewsbury Borough Mayor Erik Anderson commended the assemblywomen’s work and said, “Residents in the district and across the state deserve peace of mind and have every right to feel safe in their own homes. The ongoing spree of car burglaries and violence needs to be addressed before a tragedy occurs.”
The assemblywomen said they are also drafting separate bills ensuring enhanced penalties and mandatory minimums for offenders and criminal actors using electronic GPS tracking devices in connection with the theft of a motor vehicle.