🚨 Multiple criminal enterprises run car theft rings in New Jersey

💥 Some groups use stolen vehicles to fund terrorist activity

❗ FBI sounding alarm on increased vehicle thefts

Vehicle thefts continue to be a major problem in New Jersey as thieves get brazen and conduct carjackings in broad daylight or break into homes at night to grab your key fobs.

Even more alarming is one of the reasons behind these thefts: Terrorism.

Jim Dennehy, the special agent in charge of the Newark FBI office, says investigators now see more high-end vehicles being shipped overseas to help fund terror organizations.

“It is an easy way of getting money overseas, and it is very hard for federal agencies to detect,” Dennehy said in an interview with New Jersey 101.5.

NJ Car Thefts

New Jersey is perfect for these criminals

New Jersey is a rich feeding ground for this type of criminal enterprise.  The state is densely populated, it contains a large number of high-end vehicles and its proximity to multiple shipping ports makes this type of crime easier to facilitate.

Dennehy says his office has been involved “in a few take downs” involving this type of crime, but did not provide specifics.

The FBI works with other federal agencies, the New Jersey State Police and the Port Authority to try and stop stolen vehicles from being shipped out.

Dennehy says they are being shipped to “mostly western African countries” to provide funding to terrorist organizations.

What terror organizations are in West Africa?

ISIS is the biggest in the region.

Operating primarily in Northeastern Nigeria, ISIS-West Africa is the largest and most powerful regional branches of the terrorist organization.

Their stated objective is to replace all regional governments with an ISIS-style ruling faction.

According to U.S. intelligence officials, “The group promotes sectarian violence and exploits poor economic conditions and social divisions to attract members.”

There is also a funding pipeline back to the main ISIS organization.

What can be done?

Agent Dennehy, like many others in law enforcement, have become frustrated with the number of repeat offenders 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.

NJ Car Theft

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 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.

New Jersey's Most Dangerous Gangs and Mobsters

New Jersey has a reputation for its famous and infamous gangs and mobsters. Some are still striking fear into communities throughout the state.

Gallery Credit: Rick Rickman

New additions to NJ DOT's 2024 collection of humorous safety messages

The NJ DOT continued to use a series of humorous seasonal safety messages on its' over 200 electronic signs around New Jersey.

Gallery Credit: Dan Alexander

New Jersey towns that cut their property taxes last year

In 2023, the average property tax bill declined in 44 municipalities in New Jersey. The rankings, listed from the smallest percentage decrease to the largest decrease, is based on recent state Department of Community Affairs analyzed by New Jersey 101.5.

Gallery Credit: New Jersey 101.5

Report a correction 👈 | 👉 Contact our newsroom

More From 94.3 The Point