New Jersey lawmakers approve cargo theft deterrence

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/28/2013

A push in New Jersey to stiffen punishment for truck thieves is headed to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

New Jersey law now classifies truck theft as a property crime, which often doesn’t result in jail time. The Assembly voted unanimously on March 21 to approve a bill to include truck theft as a criminal offense, which does include incarceration. Senate lawmakers already approved S2092 by unanimous consent.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, said the amount of cargo that’s transported through New Jersey ports makes motor carriers a target for cargo theft rings.

She referred to figures that show thieves in the Garden State steal as much as $1 billion worth of cargo annually.

“Cracking down on cargo theft will make our roads safer for truckers and help our economy because these crimes drive up the prices for just about every good sold in our state,” Casagrande said in a news release.

The bill specifies that anyone who leads or organizes a cargo theft network would face $250,000 in fines, or five times the retail value of the property seized at the time of arrest.

Criminal offenses already carry the possibility of five to 10 years in prison.

In addition, the bill specifies criminal charges for operating facilities used for storage or resale of property stolen from motor carriers.

“This is a very serious crime that puts lives at risk and deals a devastating blow to the economy, increasing prices of clothing, food, pharmaceuticals and just about any product delivered by truck,” stated Assemblyman David Rible, R-Monmouth.

OOIDA Director of Security Operations Doug Morris said the bill is a step in the right direction to help protect truck drivers and their property. He said lawmakers would be justified to make the punishment for cargo theft consistent with crimes such as bank robbery.

“In areas such as New Jersey there are cargo theft rings that are thriving. They continue to pop up because when they get caught they’re right back out on the street and doing it again,” Morris told Land Line.

Morris also said that providing truckers with safe places to park is needed to address this issue.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.

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