New Jersey bill targets truck thieves

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An effort at the New Jersey statehouse is intended use stiffer penalties to deter truck thieves.

New Jersey law now classifies truck theft as a property crime, which often doesn’t result in jail time. The bipartisan Assembly bill would include truck theft as a criminal offense.

Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, said the change could create the toughest state law against cargo thieves.

“These thieves are picking off our trucks and freight. For the most part these guys get their hands slapped,” Toth told Land Line. “They can steal tractors, which are worth quite a bit of money, and it is treated like property theft. We’re trying to make it an economic theft.”

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, the bill specifies that anyone who steals a truck would face second degree criminal charges. The offense carries a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Any attempts to threaten or injure the truck driver could result in first degree criminal charges. Such offenses carry 10 to 20 years behind bars and a fine of up to $200,000.

Toth said it is important to create a stiffer deterrent to help curb thefts.

“We’ve got to stop this trend as soon as possible. At least to put the thieves in jail is important.”

Toth said the bill is a step in the right direction to help protect truck drivers and their property. However, she said there is still more that needs to be done to address safety issues for truck drivers.

“The next step is to help truckers find places to park that are safe. A lot of incidents occur at rest areas or terminals,” she said.

The bill – A3003 – is awaiting consideration in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. An identical Senate bill – S2092 – is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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