SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — With a rash of carjackings plaguing the state, the Illinois General Assembly has passed a bill requiring car manufacturers to establish a 24-hour hotline to allow police to track stolen cars.
House Bill 2245 was created in conjunction with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
“To make this work completely, we need a national solution,” he told The Center Square,
Cook County, which includes Chicago, experienced more than 2,060 carjackings in the last 12 months, more than any other major city in the United States.
With certain Kia and Hyundai models the most at risk, Illinois has seen a 767% increase in vehicle thefts over the last year.
“Virtually every car from 2015 on has tracking capacity,” Dart said. The hotline would give deputies the ability to get tracking data on stolen cars in real-time, enabling officers to find a stolen car within 15 minutes.
“The OnStar folks with GM are phenomenal. They are right on it right away. And we get more of their cars back,” Dart said, but other car manufacturers have not been as helpful.
“They’d transfer us to their legal department and a lot of times we’d get a voicemail because it was after 5 o’clock,” Dart said, even though “the owners are standing right there with us to consent to the tracking.”
The bill now heads to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk to become law.
It would be the latest law aimed at curbing the rising tide of vehicle thefts.
This year, three laws took effect in Illinois:
The first law made it illegal to possess anything that unlocks or starts a car–other than a key fob– without permission of the owner. Such devices are considered burglary tools, the law states.
Another law ensures that carjacking victims are not liable for violations or fees involving their stolen vehicles.
The third provision that went into effect on Jan. 1 provides grants and financial support to municipalities to assist with identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting carjackers and recovering stolen vehicles.
In March, Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias announced $21 million in grants to law enforcement agencies to combat a rise in carjackings and car thefts statewide.
Giannoulias was carjacked with his baseball teammates, in 1998, ABC 7 reported. “It was a brutal experience. It leaves a scar you never forget,” he said. “I hate the thought of anyone else going through that.”
The money will be used for license plate readers, helicopters, tracking devices, GPS software and other technology.