Police in Newark plan to step up enforcement of a controversial law prohibiting excessive idling of vehicles -- but not for the reason why the law was passed in the first place.
New Jersey's 2012 law is intended to cut down on excessive vehicle emissions in a state with some of the worst ground-level pollution in the country. But officials in Newark want to crack down in order to reduce the city's vehicle thefts -- many of which involve cars and trucks left running unattended. Nearly 300 idling vehicles have been taken in Newark so far in 2019.
“That’s 22 percent of all stolen cars,” Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said. “Residents who leave their cars idling for heat need to end this practice if your vehicle is left unsecured. This is creating a hazard for the car owner and for the community as a whole. Police officers will enforce the law.”
The penalty for idling a vehicle for three minutes or more is a $250 fine, with larger fines for repeat offenders. Vehicles stuck in traffic are exempt, as are certain other vehicles, like school buses and police cars. Vehicles can also be left running for up to 15 minutes if the vehicle has been stopped for three hours on days when the temperature is 25 degrees or lower.
“In addition to the 297 cars left idling, we are seeing a spike in thefts where the stolen car shows no sign of ignition tampering,” Ambrose said. “We have victims who left key fobs in their cars claiming that they were carjacked to cover their tracks or they say they dropped their keys. This type of false crime reporting also needs to stop,” he added.
The Newark Police Division offered the following tips to prevent vehicle theft:
· Install a remote starter so you can warm up or cool down your car without unlocking its doors
· Install a vehicle tracking device to find your car in the event of a theft
· Keep valuables in your vehicle hidden from plain view to deter thefts
· Park in public, well-lit, security-monitored parking areas
· Never leave your car unlocked, even in low-crime areas and neighborhoods
· Keep windows rolled up, even on hot summer days
· Do not leave a spare key in or near your vehicle
· Activate an audible alarm system
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