🚨 Local mayors continue to take steps to combat car theft

🚨 Several communities report and increase in thefts and home invasion

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

Bridgewater Mayor Matthew Moench hopes to give his local police officers another tool to combat car thefts.

He is supporting a measure before the Township Council that would allow police to ticket any person on private property who pulls the door handle on a vehicle they don't own. It also adds penalties for possession of a device that can detect if a key fob has been left in a vehicle.

Moench says car theft has become more common along the Route 78 corridor.

Other Northern Somerset County towns have passed similar ordinances, and Bridgewater hopes to join them in a unified approach to combat car thefts.

Bridegwater Mayor Matthew Moench

Mayors in multiple New Jersey municipalities have been attempting to deal with car thefts and home invasions on the local level while also appealing to the state for help.

At a recent council meeting, Moench says he hopes to send a message to the Murphy administration that “they need to increase their efforts at combatting these crimes which impact a lot of municipalities.”

READ MORE: The shocking reason behind New Jersey car thefts

Murphy administration downplays rise in car theft

There have been multiple headlines touting an ‘epidemic of car thefts in New Jersey.’

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin says its just not true.

In an op-ed Platkin wrote for NJ.com, he said auto thefts were down in 2023 and remain below the five year average

Matt platkin on car theft

Any talk of an ‘epidemic,’ Platkin wrote was just the public being fed “a steady diet of misinformation” from politicians who “all too often capitalize on tragic anecdotes to score political points.”

Platkin is scheduled to appear on New Jersey 101.5 to talk about car theft during a special Town Hall broadcast. The program airs live at 7 p.m. on Thursday May 30.

The head of the Newark FBI office has a different take

While not talking about a specific number of crimes, Special agent in charge Jim Dennehy says vehicle thefts continue to be a major problem in New Jersey.

He worries about thieves getting more brazen and conducting carjackings in broad daylight or breaking into homes at night to grab your key fobs.

Agent Dennehy says investigators now see more high-end vehicles being shipped overseas to help fund terror organizations.

Like many others in law enforcement, Dennehy and the FBI have become frustrated with the number of repeat offenders that are allowed to remain free even after arrest.

Most often, Dennehy says, these are juveniles.

“Many times juveniles are being used by criminal enterprises to steal these cars, knowing that they would be difficult to arrest and be held accountable,” Dennehy says.

In New Jersey, this has been one of the biggest unintended consequences of bail reforms begun under then-Gov. Chris Christie.

Under those reforms, which have been continued by the current administration, most defendants are released without bail to await trial.

Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation intended to reduce car thefts in New Jersey, but to little apparent effect.

One of the new laws eliminates the presumption of pre-trial release for repeat car thieves, but only if a prior arrest had taken place within 90-days of the new arrest.

Local mayors and police chiefs have been asking for Murphy and the legislature to repeal many of the bail reforms and make it easier to charge juvenile offenders as an adult.

READ MORE: New Jersey 101.5 Town Hall on car theft and how to protect yourself

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