Dart, legislators want to enlist automakers in curbing carjackings

A proposal announced Wednesday would require automakers to create a hotline that law enforcement can use to find stolen cars.

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart speaks at news conference in 2021.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, state Rep. Martin Moylan, D-Des Plaines, and state Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, on Wednesday proposed legislation to help solve carjackings.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

The number of carjackings in and around the city has reached a “crisis point,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Wednesday, as he stood with state legislators who announced a plan to push carmakers to be a part of the remedy.

“This is a time when we need action and we need it now, and we are desperate for it,” Dart told reporters in Springfield.

In 2021, there were about 2,100 carjackings in Cook County, mostly in the city, but there were fewer than 1,000 in New York and Los Angeles combined, he said.

State Rep. Martin Moylan, D-Des Plaines, and state Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, announced legislation Wednesday that would require automobile manufacturers to set up a 24-hour hotline that law enforcement can use to find stolen vehicles. Most vehicles built after 2015 have some kind of location device that can be accessed by the manufacturer, Dart said.

Dart has been raising awareness about the issues for months, he said, in part because he’s been bombarded with concerns and questions from the public.

“It’s all people talk about .... They are very scared and they are very frustrated,” Dart said, referring to carjacking and shootings.

Dart said he’s had mixed success in talking to manufacturers, praising General Motor’s cooperation. He declined to name the manufacturers that have been less helpful.

“I told them at the beginning, I am not going to sit and wait while people are having guns put to their heads, people are being shot, people are being terrorized,” Dart said.

Asked if a federal law might be a better approach, Dart said he and others have been working with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

“That would be the ideal thing, but in the meantime, we really don’t have the ability to wait,” Dart said.

Hastings said the proposed legislation is part of a three-pronged approach to tackling carjackings — an approach that also includes putting more state troopers on the roads during “peak crime hours,” as well as beefing up cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

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