General Assembly targets carjacking, and swift action is needed

The proposed laws are a good start in addressing the dangerous, and increasing, carjacking problem.

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Chicago police work the scene where two people, including a 3-year-old, were shot during an attempted carjacking in the 7900 block of South King Drive in the Chatham neighborhood on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022.

State lawmakers are looking to crack down on carjackings such as this one last January in which two people, including a 3-year-old, were shot.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

It’s good to see state lawmakers stepping in this week with new proposed laws aimed at getting a handle on the region’s growing carjacking problem.

Bills proposed Wednesday in both the state House and Senate would require automakers to work with police to help track stolen cars in real time by using the vehicle’s telemetry.

Another House and Senate bill put forth earlier this week would ease fees and other public debt that can be racked up for car owners when a car is stolen.

That bill is accompanied by another proposed law that would make it easier for police agencies to work carjacking cases together, or create multi-jurisdictional task forces targeting the crime.

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The bill would also offer state grants toward that purpose, according to the provision’s sponsors.

‘The sooner we know where the car is, the better’

The more intriguing of the proposed laws are the House and Senate bills that would require vehicle manufacturers to help police track stolen cars.

Cars built after 2015 essentially leave digital footprints captured by the vehicle’s navigation and communication systems. Under the bill, police could quickly track a stolen car using this information — and with the owner’s consent.

The law would also require automakers to provide police with information about tracking abilities enabled on cars, as specified by make, model and year.

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart has been talking to automakers for months about ways they could use technology to help reduce carjackings. He testified earlier this month on the issue before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

“In analyzing data on this crime, we know that the sooner we know where the car is, the better chance we have of finding the offenders and preventing the vehicle from being used in other crimes,” said Dart, who backs the bills and traveled to Springfield for the announcement.

State Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Frankfort) and State Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines) are the bills’ sponsors.

A fair start toward addressing carjacking

We urge action on these bills, although we’re concerned no potential funding sources — or price tag — for the state grants have been identified.

We also believe a federal car-tracking law might be an appropriate next step, given that carjacking is a nationwide problem.

But for now, we’ll take what we can get. The bills aren’t going to stop carjackings altogether, but they represent a pretty fair start to addressing this dangerous and alarming problem.

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