As the police chief of Freehold Township, George Baumann has witnessed the same individuals enter and exit the courthouse after being apprehended for attempted or actual vehicle theft.
Baumann stated, “They are young — if not minors, then young adults… and then they return because it is profitable.”
Baumann is one of a number of police chiefs endorsing recently-introduced legislation that attempts to limit the number of auto thieves who are apprehended many times for the same crime.
In reaction to the more than 14,300 vehicle thefts reported in the first eleven months of 2022, in addition to the more than 14,000 reported in 2021, legislation proposed by Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, would hold some criminals in custody pending trial.
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The bill by Gopal provides a “rebuttable presumption” of pretrial detention for those charged with carjacking, as well as those charged with car theft and burglary who have been convicted of the same offense within the preceding year, as well as those with a prior pending charge.
“This is a decisive and focused measure to combat auto theft and associated crimes by allowing law enforcement to imprison repeat offenders,” said Gopal.
Criminals are breaking into homes to steal key fobs, stealing cars from people’s driveways, and using stolen vehicles to perform additional crimes.
If enacted, the bill proposed by Gopal would remain in effect for one year.
Thursday, Gopal introduced his legislation at a news conference in Ocean Township. He was accompanied by police chiefs, Senate President Nick Scutari, and the New Jersey PBA and State Troopers Fraternal Association presidents.
Scutari stated, “It is evident that more must be done to stop this influx and defend the safety and security of our neighborhoods.”
On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to debate a variety of legislation aimed at fighting motor vehicle thefts, including a bill that would bar towing companies from demanding the owner of a stolen automobile pay a charge to have the vehicle released.