NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey officials are making an increased effort to crack down on auto theft crimes, an epidemic that the state is investing money, manpower and new laws to beat.
Eyewitness News covered a story a few weeks ago about thieves breaking into two homes and going after the keys to luxury vehicles in the driveway.
Months ago in Newark, a used car lot had eight cars taken by a brazen group.
"We expanded our auto theft task force by adding criminal justice personnel, we put additional state police recourses and added dollars to make this task force truly the most robust anti auto theft effort in the country," NJ Attorney General Matt Platkin said.
Auto theft is an epidemic that Governor Phil Murphy's administration says is on the decline in New Jersey thanks to new law enforcement efforts.
"We're also putting in $10 million in federal funds to work in communities investing in automated license plate technologies," Gov. Phil Murphy said.
The legislature is now considering new measures like establishing an auto theft offender statute for harsher consequences for repeat offenders. The measures would make it a crime to possess and distribute tools used to steal cars, and include criminal penalties for not complying with new guidelines in the sale and purchase of catalytic converters.
"With the steps we've taken, car thefts were down 14% in September," Murphy said.
Even with stricter enforcement, leaders say car owners must do their part to also curve the epidemic.
"For those folks who don't think locking your car and taking your fob, you can be home and if you have that fob hanging in the mudroom it's an easy spot to get to," NJ State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan said.