MI bill aims to crack down on technology used to steal cars

The bill will recognize the use and possession of such a device for car theft as a criminal offense.

MICHIGAN, USA – A car theft has exploded in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, including in Western Michigan.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, in 2020 the number of car thefts doubled compared to the previous two years, and in 2021 the trend continued.

Total number of stolen cars in Kent in four years:

  • 2021 – 323
  • 2020 – 294
  • 2019 – 139
  • 2018 – 132

Senate Bill 870, introduced by Senator Jim Runestad (right) of West Auckland County, aims to crack down on criminals who use car key programming technology to steal cars.

Computer devices are used by locksmiths and mechanics to change key locks on vehicles. The bill will recognize the use and possession of such a device for car theft as a criminal offense.

“There are big operators who buy mostly cartels, these ProPads for $ 30,000, and then rent them out for thousands of dollars a day to members of a local gang to get them out and steal cars,” Runestad said.

The bill will make the use or possession of this technology to steal cars a crime for up to ten years in prison and give prosecutors more power.

“[Prosecutors] use incomprehensible laws that do not apply, and they need something that, as they know, will be brought to justice, which is a violation of the statute, as prescribed by law, “- said Runestad.

The types of cars that steal are muscle cars and SUVs, which, according to Runestad, are used to overtake police and drive police cruisers off roads in southeastern Michigan.

A detective with the Michigan State Police Theft Unit in Western Michigan said he had not seen the thefts in Kalamazoo, where he is based, but heard they were happening in Grand Rapids.

“I would say our first training and introduction to it was three to five years ago, and we’ve seen it just grow and grow and grow from there,” Det said. Lieutenant Russell Amon of Southwest Commercial Auto Recovery.

“I’d say western Michigan would be the next probability because you have southeastern Michigan and Chicago. What’s in between? Western Michigan. I’d say it’s absolutely on your way if we don’t deal with it.” Said Runestad.

The bill is sent to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

To avoid falling victim, leave your cars in a well-lit place and try to keep them indoors if you can. Surveillance cameras can also deter thieves.

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