NJ Governor Murphy has a plan to stop car theft. I say turn to Louisiana

AP Photo/Ben Gray

I find myself constantly referencing the fact that bedroom communities and different areas in New Jersey have had an uptick in auto theft. Some of the auto theft, while not the victim’s fault, could have been avoided if the owner of the vehicle just locked the doors and brought their fobs into their home with them (spoiler alert). One neighborhood where a well-to-do friend of mine lives has been afflicted by such crimes. And why not? I did see a Ferrari get delivered to one of his neighbor’s once when I was visiting my buddy’s, er home, manor(?). The theft of cars has gotten so bad that it’s gained the attention of crooked grin Governor Phil Murphy. The Murph allegedly has a plan to deal with all the auto thefts.

Governor Phil Murphy, alongside Senate President Nick Scutari and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, today announced his support for a series of legislative proposals and administrative actions to combat auto theft in New Jersey. Today’s announcement builds upon steps taken earlier this year, which have already proven to have an impact. Auto thefts in September of this year were down 14 percent from September of last year. And in October, auto thefts were down 12 percent from October of last year.

“I am grateful for the collaborative work that has been done across government in partnership with law enforcement at the state and local levels to combat crime in our state,” said Governor Murphy. “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. However, we also ask that our residents take additional measures to protect themselves from auto theft. If you cannot park your car in a closed and locked garage, make sure that your vehicle is locked and that the key fob is with you.”

The Governor announced his support for a series of legislative measures to combat auto theft. Some versions of these measures have already been introduced, and the Governor looks forward to working with legislative leadership and the sponsors to advance these reforms through the legislative process. The Governor proposed:

  1. Establishing a persistent auto theft offender statute, which would give state and local prosecutors the option to seek more serious criminal consequences for those who have been repeatedly found guilty of stealing cars.
  2. Making possession and distribution of certain auto theft tools a crime.
  3. Imposing criminal penalties for the failure to comply with certain guidelines in the sale and purchase of catalytic converters.
  4. Investing in enhanced pretrial services, which will reduce the risk from individuals who are awaiting trial. This will include:

1. Pretrial monitoring by law enforcement.

2. Expansion of the use of house arrest paired with location monitoring.

3. Providing additional resources related to substance abuse, mental health, and housing insecurity.

That’s cute. Nothing truly proactive here. The thought is to legislate their way out of executive failures. Other than seeking “more serious criminal consequences” for those who steal cars, the Murph can take this list and line a wall with it. Seriously.

Since we’re talking penalties, car theft, in my opinion, is akin to horse theft. Stealing a horse back in the day was a big deal. That was stealing a man’s means to gain substance and to labor. It was transportation and a means of doing actual work. Some of the ways horse thieves were treated back in the day ought to be how modern thieves of cars are treated. Might change things a little.

The Governor’s announcement went on with other ideas and talked about other resources previously allocated to help combat the problem. If the Governor and legislature of New Jersey had any real intention on stopping this practice, they’d really step up to the plate and swing. With the opinion in NYSRPA v. Bruen, New Jersey is now issuing Permits to Carry. Granted, the three branches in the Garden State are all conspiring to change that, but as it stands today, the peasants have the right to carry after procuring a permit.

I say look to Louisiana Governor Murphy. A 1997 New York Times article covered the news du jour coming from The Pelican State.

Motorists who fear their lives are in danger can now kill carjackers under a Louisiana law that went into effect on Friday.

All states have laws that allow self-defense measures, but the Louisiana measure appears to be the first to focus specifically on carjacking, legislators said. The law was passed by the Legislature in June.

But even in this state where it is legal for people to carry concealed weapons, the law has drawn criticism. ”Essentially, it’s just a law that allows you to kill car thieves,” said Bert Garraway of the public defender office in Baton Rouge. ”As is usually the case, the Legislature overreacted.”

Proponents said the law was needed.

”We had three cases where victims of violent incidents were charged initially for defending themselves,” said Sandy Krasnoff, director of the advocacy group Victims and Citizens Against Crime. ”Victims should not be hassled by the legal system — if they manage to live through it.”

A young advertising executive was raped and killed in a carjacking in New Orleans just before Mardi Gras this year. Last December, Erika Schwarz, the 1997 Miss Louisiana and the first runner-up in the Miss America Pageant, was the victim of a carjacking. She was not hurt, but her car was taken by a gunman who accosted her in her driveway.

Yeah, I don’t think New Jersey will embrace that. But we can put the Murph’s feet to the fire none-the-less. If he and State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick J. Callahan wanted to add more facets to their approach, why wouldn’t they suggest something like this law? After all, it’s the gross and extreme failure of our executive branch in New Jersey that’s allowed for this to proliferate.

What’s Louasiana’s justified homicide law say? In part:

  1. A homicide is justifiable:

(1)  When committed in self-defense by one who reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or receiving great bodily harm and that the killing is necessary to save himself from that danger.

(2)  When committed for the purpose of preventing a violent or forcible felony involving danger to life or of great bodily harm by one who reasonably believes that such an offense is about to be committed and that such action is necessary for its prevention.  The circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fear of a reasonable person that there would be serious danger to his own life or person if he attempted to prevent the felony without the killing.

(3)  When committed against a person whom one reasonably believes to be likely to use any unlawful force against a person present in a dwelling or a place of business, or when committed against a person whom one reasonably believes is attempting to use any unlawful force against a person present in a motor vehicle as defined in R.S. 32:1(40), while committing or attempting to commit a burglary or robbery of such dwelling, business, or motor vehicle.

We can sit and debate the morality of use of force until the sun comes up, but that’s not going to matter at all in a state like New Jersey. Pointing this out is relevant to the not-so-good Governor for argument’s sake. Just like the bear hunt the Murph recently announced he’s going to allow to start again, on this failure, we can’t expect any appreciable change.

I’m of the opinion that Murphy is going to make a run for president. I believe that he’s working to get as many ducks in a row to show the country that he’s #doingsomething. Murphy can push for more legislation to help stop the auto theft in New Jersey, as well as pump resources into different areas, but none of this means a thing if there are not going to be arrests, and more importantly, prosecutors that push for charges. The revolving door justice system in progressive states like New Jersey is the fault of all three branches of government, not just the judicial. I hope I’m wrong and the Murph never makes a sprint towards the resolute desk, but only time will tell.

For now, we can leave off with some sage advice from the Motor Vehicle Commission Acting Chief Administrator Latrecia Littles-Floyd, “The initiatives announced today will give law enforcement a new tool to help track down stolen vehicles and boost public awareness about the importance of securing key fobs. Working closely with our partners in law enforcement, we will continue to maximize our efforts at MVC to help reduce vehicle thefts.” Got that New Jersey? It’s important to secure your key fob. Are you aware of that now? I might add locking your doors to that list of tasks as well.