NJ car theft rings recruiting teens, lawmakers propose tougher penalties

Officials in New Jersey are set to introduce a new bill aimed at cracking down on car theft.

According to State Senator Anthony M. Bucco, there has been a 37% increase in the number of cars stolen across the Garden State so far in 2022. If the current pace continues, New Jersey could see almost twice the number of car thefts as there were in 2021. 

Bucco, who is co=sponsoring the bi-partisan bill, says that thefts have become more brazen.

"It's becoming more violent too," Bucco said. "People are beginning to enter homes because they know that folks keep the keys to their car close to the door."

The bill calls for the doubling of penalties for the leaders of car theft rings.

"Gangs are utilizing juveniles to do this auto theft," Bucco said. "Adult leaders that are involved in the enterprise of stealing cars are using juveniles because there's really no consequence."

Bucco adds that for juveniles convicted of these crimes, the ultimate goal of the bill is rehabilitation.

"First offense, they can face up to 60 days of community service. Repeat offenders will face jail time," Bucco said.