SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The state is sending more money to law enforcement agencies to crack down on car thefts, and officers said it will be a big help for departments already stretched thin.
Car thefts are on the rise. Data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau shows statewide, they skyrocketed from around 2,800 in 2021 to over 40,000 in 2022.
“In 2022, a motor vehicle was stolen every single minute in the United States,” said Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias. “Unfortunately, in Illinois, we have not been immune to the effects of auto theft.”
In an attempt to fix that problem, the state is spreading out $21 million to six police task forces in the state. The money will go to the Chicago Police Department, the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force, the Greater Peoria Auto Crimes Task Force, the Statewide Auto Theft Task Force and the Expressway Safety Enforcement Group.
Giannoulias highlighted the investment in the Metro East Tuesday.
“The $2.4 million in grant funding [for the Metro East Task Force) provided by our office makes it possible for law enforcement officers to combine proven investigative techniques with specialized technology to solve and prevent future vehicular crimes,” said Giannoulias.
Kenny Winslow, Executive Director of the Illinois Association for Chiefs of Police, said this money will go a long way.
“We’re thankful that the Secretary and the Governor and the legislature has appropriated this money,” Winslow said. “It’s a valuable tool for us. It’s definitely going to help us in addressing these crimes.”
The money will go towards keeping task forces dedicated to solving vehicle thefts up and running, and making sure they are well equipped with tools like license plate readers.
“It’s the tools that are needed, you know, putting [license plate readers] in areas and interstates where there have been issues.”
But Winslow said law enforcement will likely bring some ideas to the legislature next year to make it easier to solve these cases. One idea he pitched was allowing police to access locations of cars through GPS functions without a warrant.
“Help us get the tools that we need to combat this,” Winslow said. “So that’s the legislation we’ll be bringing forward in the future, to try to address some of these issues as we continue.”
The grant money is actually coming from people’s car insurance plans. The Secretary of State’s Office collects a $1 assessment on every car insurance plan in the state, and that in turn goes toward the grants.