Car Thefts – a Problem

NORTH CALDWELL -Josh Raymond, the mayor of this suburban Essex County town, says he’s often asked about car thefts.

Or more precisely, what can the town do to stop them?

On Thursday morning, the mayor delivered an answer. He said help is coming in the form of Automated License Plate Readers, or ALPR, thanks to a nearly $1 million federal grant to 17 Essex towns.

These devices will be mounted on signs and light poles and, as the name suggests, read license plates of passing vehicles. So, if a car is reported stolen, the plate readers can pinpoint exactly where it is as it travels on the road, which is a great help to law enforcement.

The technology is described as sophisticated enough to pick up not only plate numbers, but the make, type and color of the vehicle. The cost of these devices ranges from $16,000 to $20,000 apiece.

There already has been state money for such devices and some towns rave about the system.

Take George Ricci, the police chief in Bloomfield.

He said the town has installed so many ALPR devices that, “We’ve built a geo-fence around Bloomfield.”

Ricci was one of 17 police reps from Essex County who gathered outside borough hall as Rep. Mikie Sherrill presented a ceremonial check to support the effort. Like many House members this week, Sherrill is traveling her district to award funds for what are called community funding projects. Years ago, they were called “earmarks,” but that term fell out of favor and a new one emerged.

There is no denying the problem.  More than 16,000 vehicles in New Jersey were reported stolen last year, a slight rise over 2022.

Compared to the nation as a whole, automobile thefts in New Jersey at 174 per 100,000 people ranked 39th in the nation.

Stats, of course, are cold comfort to those who find their vehicle “disappear.”

When the surge in car thefts was first realized a few years ago, police said part of the problem was complacency – especially in the suburbs. They said too many people were not locking their vehicle or leaving their keys in the car.

Karl W. Strodthoff, the police chief in North Caldwell, says people have gotten the message. Those mistakes have stopped.

But that has led to a greater problem – thieves breaking into a house in hopes of finding car keys on the kitchen table.

No matter how vehicles are stolen, there’s general agreement that many of the perpetrators are minors, some as young as 14 or 15.

That is no coincidence. Even when caught, penalties for juveniles, who police say are working for others, generally end up in family court, where penalties are quite minor.

Fixing this is a problem for the state Legislature. But as of now, that has not happened.



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5 responses to “Car Thefts – a Problem”

  1. Sherrill just never misses an opportunity to be seen, yet talks garbage.

    As this “report” indicates, the problem is the lenient sentencing handed out to car thieves, if any. Harsh, mandatory jail sentencing is needed for any auto theft. Age should not factor in.

    We don’t need Sherrill or anyone else to come up with additional legislation. Just be tough on crime and enforce law already on the books.

    Back in the days before automobiles the horse thief was hung. That’s probably going to far but we need to get much tougher than we currently are. Stop pandering to criminals.

  2. We know stolen cars are taken to the port and shipped overseas, why don’t they just check VIN numbers as they get loaded? Where is the US Customs Service?

  3. Hummm…..I wonder how long it would take a car thief to replace the license plate that this not-inexpensive system utilizes to “see” stolen car.

  4. Sherrill is political pandering once again. She votes with the Biden Administration 100% of the time. She supports “turn them loose” prosecutors. She is supported by donations from pro-Nazi, Anti-Semitic, Anti-American billionaire George Soros. Sherrill is a fake, phoney and a fraud.

  5. Any and all tools used to assist our patrolling officers is an added benefit. As we know, Police Officers can’t be everywhere all the time, but these LPR’s can and will help so many agencies and the victims of these car thefts. I do agree that the slaps on the wrists need to be harder and turned into time served, but I’m not going to get political, I’ll leave that for the professional politicians. Chief Ricci and the BPD do an excellent job in using the tools they have to assist in this horrible crime. The politicians need to pass stricter laws on once these criminals are caught, they actually get their licenses suspended indefinitely and stay in jail longer than the current lame sentence.

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