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NJ mayor sues his own state over bail reform, blames failing policy for massive spike in car thefts

A New Jersey mayor is fighting back against his own state, blaming bail laws for a major spike in car thefts. Some cases include brazen thieves going into suburban homes and driving away with families’ cars.

According to New Jersey State Police crime data, thousands of cars are stolen each year statewide. Officials say it is part of a car theft ring. Many vehicles end up in chop shops or even shipped overseas.

Now, the mayor of Middletown, New Jersey, has announced he is suing the state, blaming New Jersey’s bail reform policy for the spike in auto thefts. Mayor Tony Perry said the rise in crime is costing tax payers big money and their peace of mind. He’s asking for tougher sentences and charges that will help deter criminals.

“They eliminated cash bail. So in essence, our judicial system has become a customer service business, in all honesty,” said Mayor Perry.

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According to crime data from Monmouth County, there were less than 140 car thefts back in 2017. That is the same year New Jersey’s bail reform law was enacted. Fast-forward to last year, where the county reported more than 600 stolen cars. That is up more than 300% in a five-year period.

Local officials are asking federal authorities to investigate the car theft ring, as both sides of the aisle in the county are calling on the state to make changes to the policy that they believe is failing.

“Bail reform is to blame because we’ve created a culture. We’ve created a sense that when you do commit a crime, you could go years without ever seeing a trial,” Mayor Perry said.

The problem is becoming so big that New Jersey’s governor allocated $10 million to add automated license plate readers and more resources to curb the spike in car thefts.

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A spokesperson for New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy shared the following statement with Fox News: 

“This Administration has taken several steps to combat car theft in New Jersey over the past few years, which has resulted in a decrease in these crimes across our state. As the Governor mentioned in his 2023 State of the State Address, from September through December 2022, car thefts were down 13% from the same four months of 2021. The Governor will continue to work with his partners in the legislature to continue to drive these numbers down and create safer communities across our state.”

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