Flynn and Thomson bill cracking down on repeat car thieves goes to governor’s desk

Flynn and Thomson bill cracking down on repeat car thieves goes to governor’s desk

Vicky Flynn

TRENTON, N.J. – Criminals charged with auto theft more than once during a 90-day period could soon await trial behind bars under a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn and Assemblyman Ned Thomson and passed by the Assembly Friday.

The bill (A5189) rolls back bail reform measures that have contributed to the revolving door of car thieves in New Jersey.

“This bill thoughtfully targets the car theft crisis occurring throughout our communities by providing the necessary support law enforcement has called for to address the ‘catch and release’ policies that have enabled car theft rings to flourish,” said Flynn (R-Monmouth). “The rise in car thefts was one of the first issues I aimed to tackle as a member of the Legislature, so I am especially thankful to see this bill advance to the governor’s desk with resounding bipartisan support.”

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. According to the state’s auto theft task force, a small number of criminals are responsible for the majority of auto thefts.

“Residents feel unsafe in their own homes and cars, because these crimes have continued to plague our state. However, today we took a substantial step towards dismantling the crime rings that are responsible,” Flynn added. “I stand firm in my commitment to protect the safety of my constituents and residents of every New Jersey neighborhood.”

Criminal courts are currently only authorized to order a defendant to be detained while awaiting trial for murder or crimes carrying life imprisonment sentences, or if the accused is found to be a flight risk, danger to the community or likely to obstruct criminal proceedings. This bill allows a court to detain defendants charged with or convicted of an auto theft multiple times within 90 days.

Ned Thomson

“Empowering the courts to close the door on repeat car thieves will help put an end to the crime cycle the system currently supports,” said Thomson (R-Monmouth). “Simply letting offenders off with a slap on the wrist has only contributed to the rise in crime that has touched every corner of the state. In order to provide residents the peace of mind they deserve and protect them from falling victim to career criminals, New Jersey must take a tougher approach. The overwhelming support for this legislation will hopefully inspire the governor’s swift signature.”

Once signed, the legislation takes effect immediately.