Now on Monday, for the first time ever, the Middletown Police Department released data that shows how much car thefts have increased in Middletown over the years.
Middletown Police Chief R. Craig Weber said car theft has steadily increased ever since bail reform became law in New Jersey, at the end of 2017.
Since that time, Middletown has seen a 210 percent increase in car thefts.
From Middletown Police:
2016 – 10 stolen vehicles reported in Middletown
2017 – 15 stolen vehicles
2018 – 22 stolen vehicles
2019 – 22 stolen vehicles
2020 – 33 stolen vehicles
2021 – 31 stolen vehicles
2022 – 40 stolen vehicles total (31 stolen by auto theft gangs; nine additional cars stolen by one specific 15-year-old Middletown teen who police say would take the cars, joyride them overnight and then abandon them at Ideal Beach or at his home. He has no known ties to the sophisticated North Jersey car theft rings.)
Excluding the cars stolen by the joyriding juvenile — which Middletown Police describe as an anomaly because he was not part of any organized ring — car theft has skyrocketed 210 percent in Middletown since 2016.
Bail reform is a policy in New Jersey that immediately, or within a day, releases those accused of car theft or burglary back onto the streets, instead of holding them in jail on a cash or bail bond.
Some Republican lawmakers say it’s led to a surge in crime.
“They eliminated cash bail. So in essence, our judicial system has become a customer service business, in all honesty,” Middletown Mayor Tony Perry told Fox News last week. “Bail reform is to blame because we’ve created a culture. We’ve created a sense that when you do commit a crime, you could go years without ever seeing a trial.”
The Middletown Police Department also has an officer assigned on a full-time basis to NJ State Police Auto Theft Taskforce, and “We have been very successful in locating and recovering numerous vehicles and also made some significant arrests,” said Chief Weber.
Statewide, auto theft rose nine percent in 2022 compared to 2021, and rose 41 percent from a record low in 2020, according to State Police data. However, in the last four months of 2022 car thefts dropped slightly, falling 13 percent from September through December 2022 compared to the same four months of 2021.
Last week: Middletown Files Complaint With State Over Bail Reform (Jan. 18)