Tinton Falls – Team Monmouth’s Senator Vin Gopal, Dr. Margie Donlon, and former prosecutor Luanne Peterpaul, Esq. have released a new TV ad featuring members of local law enforcement from across Monmouth County entitled “Trust.”
“Guy’s lived in Monmouth County his whole life. He’s one of us,” says another officer. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican.”
This ad directly pushes back against lies being spread to voters this cycle from opponents, with officers saying, “I’ve seen the ads attacking him. They’re all lies. I trust Vin Gopal.” The officers also strongly endorse Gopal’s running mates, Dr. Margie Donlon and Luanne Peterpaul because, “Vin’s great, but he can’t do it alone. He’s got a great team.”
The ad closes with a simple message from Senator Gopal: “…With my team, Dr. Margie Donlon, and Luanne Peterpaul, we’ll keep Monmouth County safe.”
Watch the full ad HERE.
From December 2022
Oakhurst – Responding to the surge in auto thefts and related crimes, Senator Vin Gopal today announced the introduction of legislation, S-3385, that would target repeat offenders by establishing a “rebuttable presumption” of pretrial detention for the crime of carjacking, and for the crimes of car theft and burglary where the defendant has a prior conviction or prior pending charge for one of those crimes.
Senate President Nick Scutari joined with Senator Gopal for the announcement, as well as Pat Colligan, President of the New Jersey PBA, Wayne Blanchard, President of the State Troopers Fraternal Association, and area police chiefs.
“Car thefts are nothing new, but the problem has been taken to entirely new levels in recent years,” said Senate President Scutari. “We are seeing things we have not seen before, with organized car theft rings, catalytic converter theft rings, criminals breaking into homes to steal fobs, and the organized use of juveniles. It is clear that more has to be done to stop this surge and protect the safety and security of our communities.”
The provisions of the bill would remain in effect for one year after enactment and then expire, as a temporary means of addressing the recent surge in auto thefts. After expiration, courts would be required to report to the Legislature and the Governor on the number of individuals detained under the bill.
“This is a decisive and targeted action to counter auto thefts and related crimes by allowing law enforcement to detain repeat offenders,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “The surge in auto-thefts over the past two years threatens the property and safety of New Jersey residents and places an added strain on law enforcement. These crimes are especially disturbing because they are so close to home. Criminals are burglarizing houses for key fobs, stealing cars right out of people’s driveways and using the vehicles to commit other crimes.”
More than 14,300 vehicles have been stolen in New Jersey through November of this year, up nine percent from the same point last year and up 41 percent from a record low in 2020. The problem is not unique to New Jersey, with auto thefts up 17 percent nationally.
Senator Gopal also authored a series of additional measures to combat motor vehicle thefts, including bills to toughen penalties for car thefts, for repeat offenders and for the illegal use of master keys.
All four of these bills will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.
By Vin Gopal
Last year, 14,320 vehicles were reported stolen in New Jersey.
That was a 22 percent increase over 2020, when car thefts also rose over the previous year, according to the State Police, and more than 9,000 cars were stolen through July of this year. Law enforcement sources say the number could reach 17,000 by year end. It’s part of a national trend that the National Insurance Crime Bureau describes as “unprecedented.”
In Monmouth County thieves stole 158 vehicles during the first three months of this year, and there was an increase of over 110 percent of high-end auto thefts, according to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.
The spike in car theft is even more alarming when you consider that the thefts are being carried out by gang-led auto theft rings that are recruiting children and teens to carry out the crimes. These are not crimes of convenience. The car theft rings are organized, they are professional criminals, and they operate with sophistication and speed. Too often the stolen cars wind up being used in crimes.
That’s why I’ve partnered with Assemblywoman Shanique Speight of Newark to sponsor two bills that would strengthen penalties for car thieves and promote prevention efforts across the state. The car theft rings also strain law enforcement resources.
The first of the two bills, which I introduced in August, would establish an Automobile Theft Prevention Authority and appropriate $2 million to operate it. Several states have already successfully implemented Automobile Theft Prevention Authorities, which convene law enforcement officers, prosecutors, insurance representatives, and at-large members to discuss best practices, create rules, and coordinate statewide prevention efforts. States with Automobile Theft Prevention Authorities report that they have helped create flexibility for law enforcement resources and generate a faster, targeted response to trends and developments in car thefts.
The second bill would increase penalties for juveniles and adults convicted of auto theft and related crimes, as well as stiffen penalties on adults who hire juveniles to commit the crime. Teens are attractive participants to organized auto rings because they are less likely to serve jail time when they are arrested. I share Assemblywoman Speight’s confidence that we can strengthen penalties and provide the necessary rehabilitative pathways for juveniles who are involved in automobile thefts to turn their lives around, while also discouraging adults from recruiting teens into auto theft rings.
Residents also need to act to reduce car thefts by making it harder for the thieves to steal their cars. Often, the stolen cars are keyless-entry models whose owners leave the fob that opens the door and allows the car to start in the car. It’s almost like asking a thief to steal it. Some keyless entry cars even tell thieves the fob is inside because the side mirrors automatically fold in when the fob is removed from the vehicle.
In the meantime, let’s all make sure we are taking precautions like locking our cars, never leaving them running and not leaving anything visible inside that might tempt a thief. I urge parents to stress these precautions if they have new drivers at home. Working together with law enforcement and remaining vigilant will go a long way to help keep our cars where we leave them and make our state safer from auto theft.