ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Senator Jeremy Cooney is hoping to tackle the rise in car thefts with a new bill called the Car Theft Prevention Act.
The bill has the potential to help reduce the number of repeat offenders by making the crime of stealing a car a felony offense.
Since the beginning of this year Monroe County has had nearly 4000 car thefts. According to Senator Cooney that’s a 345% increase compared to the same time period last year. Rochester has been hit the hardest, with an increase of 829% thefts during the same time period. While, Monroe county and Erie county account for two thirds of all car break in New York state. Currently, if someone steals a car they get a grand larceny charge and an appearance ticket to go to court, but the newly introduced bill would make car theft, even if the thief was caught immediately after stealing the car, criminal possession of stolen property, which would make it a qualifying offense for bail.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter, “this is not the complete legislation that we’re looking for but we’re so happy that the ball is moving forward.”
Sheriff Baxter says that what is really necessary is clean legislation with clear law so officers can proceed in a way that may deter repeat offenders.
“If this legislation passes, at least there will be a bail referral to a judge and a judge may place bail which holds more accountability, and maybe even temporary incarceration, , said Sheriff Baxter “with that we can take advantage of that temporary incarceration to make some intervention.”
Senator Cooney plans on formally introducing more information about his bill at a later date.