On April 6, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced his support for legislation before the Illinois General Assembly that would require auto manufacturers to create a recovery hotline to help law enforcement quickly track stolen vehicles.
The inability of law enforcement to access tracking information in real time after a carjacking makes it difficult to catch offenders and prevent the vehicle from being used in additional crimes.
Currently, each auto manufacturer has its own process for obtaining such existing information, often causing unnecessary delays. Under the legislation, law enforcement can obtain this information, if the owner consents, when a vehicle has been carjacked or is being used in the commission of other violent crimes.
Cook County experienced 2,060 carjackings in the last 12 months, and carjackings rose 38 percent from 2020 to 2021. The sheriff’s office has been gathering and analyzing detailed data on the crime as part of its work with a regional carjacking task force.
The office also has been engaged in discussions with auto manufacturers since December about a potential hotline and other ways the industry could help combat the rise in carjackings.
“Tracking is a game changer. Gaining better access to this information in a way that protects consumers will go a long way to turning back the rise in this particularly vicious crime,” Dart said. “In analyzing data on this crime, we know that the sooner we know where the car is, the better chance we have of finding the offenders and preventing the vehicle from being used in other crimes.”
Senate Bill 4205 is sponsored by state Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Frankfort), and House Bill 5744 is sponsored by state Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines).
The legislation also will require auto manufacturers to provide law enforcement agencies details about the tracking capabilities available in their vehicles by model, year and version. In addition, auto manufacturers will waive all fees associated with initiating, renewing or maintaining the vehicle tracking and/or vehicle disabling systems in response to law enforcement investigations involving carjackings or other violent crimes.
The public also will be able to access information about whether their cars can be tracked on the sheriff’s office website.
In December, Dart wrote to major auto manufacturers requesting their assistance in creating a hotline law enforcement can use to receive vehicle tracking information in real time.
He also testified on March 1 before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about the rise in carjackings and his work with automakers on solutions.
In the meantime, Dart developed a consent-to-track form that owners can submit to the sheriff’s office to grant access to vehicle tracking information in the event it’s illegally taken. Having the completed form on hand will make it easier for law enforcement to access tracking information from manufacturers.
The consent form and safety tips are available on the sheriff’s office website.