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New Jersey mayors take action against rising car thefts

🚨 Local mayors continue to take action to combat car thefts

🚨 Several communities report an increase in thefts and burglaries

🚨 Attorney General Matt Platkin says there is no car theft epidemic


Bridgewater Mayor Matthew Moench wants to give local police another tool to combat car thefts.

He supports a bill in the council that would allow police to ticket people on private property who pull on the door handle of a vehicle that does not belong to them. The bill also includes penalties for possessing a device that detects whether a key fob has been left in the vehicle.

According to Moench, car thefts are more common along Route 78.

Other cities in northern Somerset County have passed similar ordinances, and Bridgewater hopes to join them in combating auto theft.

Bridegwater Mayor Matthew Moench

Mayors of several communities in the state of New Jersey are trying to solve the problem of car thefts and home break-ins at the local level, but at the same time are asking the state for help.

At a recent council meeting, Moench said he wanted to send a message to the Murphy administration that they “need to step up their efforts to combat these crimes that affect many communities.”

Murphy government downplays rise in car thefts

Numerous headlines spoke of an “epidemic of car thefts in New Jersey.”

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin says that's simply not true.

In a commentary Platkin wrote for NJ.com, he said the number of car thefts in 2023 had declined and was below the five-year average

Matt Platkin on car theft

Any talk of an “epidemic,” Platkin said, means nothing more than that the public is being fed “a steady dose of misinformation” by politicians who “all too often capitalize on tragic anecdotes for political gain.”

Platkin is scheduled to appear on New Jersey 101.5 in a special town hall to discuss auto theft. The show will air live on Thursday, May 30 at 7 p.m.

The head of the FBI office in Newark has a different opinion

Special Agent in Charge Jim Dennehy did not provide a specific number of crimes, but said auto thefts continue to be a major problem in New Jersey.

He fears that thieves are becoming more brazen, committing car thefts in broad daylight or breaking into homes at night to steal your keychains.

According to Agent Dennehy, investigators are currently observing that more luxury vehicles are being shipped abroad to finance terrorist organizations.

Like many others in law enforcement, Dennehy and the FBI are frustrated by the number of repeat offenders who are allowed to remain at large even after their arrest.

Most of the time, says Dennehy, these are young animals.

“Criminals often use teenagers to steal these cars, even though they know it will be difficult to arrest them and hold them accountable,” Dennehy says.

In New Jersey, this was one of the biggest unintended consequences of bail reform initiated under then-Governor Chris Christie.

Under these reforms, which are being continued by the current administration, most defendants are released without bail to await trial.

Governor Phil Murphy has signed a law intended to reduce the number of car thefts in New Jersey, but with apparently little success.

One of the new laws eliminates the presumption of release before trial for repeat car thieves, but only if a previous arrest occurred within 90 days of the re-arrest.

Local mayors and police chiefs called on Murphy and lawmakers to roll back many of the bail reforms and make it easier to charge juvenile offenders as adults.

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