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Gov. Phil Murphy at a press conference on auto thefts. (Photo: Office of the Governor via YouTube).

Murphy unveils proposals to fight auto thefts

Crime has been key issue in N.J.’s congressional races

By Joey Fox, November 07 2022 5:49 pm

At a press conference in Ewing today, Gov. Phil Murphy released a set of proposals aimed at reducing auto thefts, which have grown into a major concern for many New Jerseyans over the last year.

“​​Today’s steps, which include increasing penalties for persistent auto theft offenders and criminalizing certain conduct related to auto theft tools and catalytic converters, will strengthen this administration’s efforts to reverse the uptick in vehicle theft we have witnessed over the past few years,” Murphy said in a statement.

Fear of car thefts, and of crime more broadly, has been an important issue in this year’s congressional races, particularly among Republican congressional candidates. 3rd district candidate Bob Healey, for example, released a TV ad last month accusing Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) of not supporting the police and failing to keep Burlington County safe.

The specific proposals Murphy said he’ll work with the legislature to implement include giving prosecutors the ability to pursue more serious charges against repeat car thieves, criminalizing certain auto theft tools, creating new laws governing the sale of catalytic converters (which are commonly stolen from cars), and expanding monitoring and house arrest for those awaiting trial for auto theft. 

“The Murphy Administration continues to take a comprehensive approach to keeping New Jersey residents safe,” Attorney General Matt Platkin said. “Particularly when it comes to combating the rise in auto thefts, we are deploying every tool possible – creative legislation, technological investments, and traditional enforcement. Public safety will always be our top priority.”

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