After Statewide Surge in Car Thefts, NJ Reverses Policy on Police Pursuit

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NJ State Attorney General Matt Platkin announced today that the policy preventing police officers from pursuing stolen cars will be reversed.

A statewide policy that allowed police to only chase a stolen vehicle if there was suspicion of a more serious crime, such as a homicide or kidnapping, was instituted in late 2021.

At a Friday press conference, Platkin announced that his office is reversing this after spending time “listening to police officers” who disagreed with the policy, saying he wants those in “law enforcement to know I listened to their concerns.”

The policy reversal comes after a statewide surge in car thefts since January.  The trend also saw more brazen attempts as many were in daylight and crowded public places. Originally, the policy was intended to reduce dangerous chases on crowded roads.  However, state police records indicate thefts have increased over 50% since January, and the increase has been seen statewide.  

Clifton Lt. Bracken confirmed that the Clifton Police Department has also seen “hundreds of vehicle thefts since the beginning of the year.”

Platkin and Governor Murphy also announced the State will release an additional $10 million from the American Rescue Plan funds to cover the cost of technology for automated license plate recognition. These camera systems will be able to capture and store digital images of license plates.

Platkin explained that car theft often “drives other violent crime” and Governor Murphy added “the alarming uptick in vehicle thefts is unacceptable,” the license plate recognition technology is intended to help ensure officers will have the tools they need to keep communities safe.



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