House Passes Senator Greenleaf's Auto Theft Prevention Bill
Today, the House of
Representatives passed Senator Greenleaf's
SB 86, an auto theft prevention measure to assist law enforcement in
cracking down on auto theft in Pennsylvania.
"The crime of auto
theft has become increasingly complex, and auto thieves have become more
organized," said Senator Greenleaf. "Pennsylvania's existing laws need to be
amended to help prosecutors charge someone with auto theft."
are increasingly involved in stealing vehicles, altering their identities and
selling the vehicles to unsuspecting consumers, or shipping the vehicle to other
countries where they are sold on the black market. They also steal vehicles to
chop them up to sell the parts. The profits from these thefts are often used to
supplement other criminal enterprises. Legislative revisions can improve law
enforcement's efforts to investigate more complex cases, as well as improve
their ability to locate and recover stolen vehicles and parts.
SB 86 expands the
Motor Vehicle Chop Shop Act to include “trailers” and “semitrailers” to help law
enforcement charging thieves who steal trailers.
Law enforcement has
found that the current law is vague when attempting to charge someone with the
crimes of profiting from stolen vehicle activity. SB 86 clarifies the offense of
dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity to specifically include stolen or
illicitly obtained property.
Current law fails to
establish any limits on time for inspections of suspected “chop shops”. The
proposal would establish that inspections may occur during a shop's normal
business hours or any other time in which work is being done. Also, the current
law does not properly limit which vehicles may be searched. It allows police to
search any vehicle on the premises, including private vehicles belonging to
employees or customers and fails to provide constitutionally required limits on
police discretion. The bill corrects this issue by limiting searches to those
vehicles and parts that are subject to the record keeping requirements of the
Since 1994, when the
General Assembly created the Auto Theft Prevention Authority, annual auto theft
rates have decreased by 60%. However, SB 86 is needed to help successfully
prosecute and convict many highly organized criminals and complicated cases.
SB 86 now awaits the