COOK COUNTY, IL – Citing the urgent need to address the rise in violent carjackings across the country, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart called on Congress today to follow Illinois’ lead and require automakers to create a quicker way for police and victims to access the location of hijacked vehicles.
“Hijacked vehicles are often used to further additional violent crimes, including armed robbery and homicide, but we can find many of these cars quickly if automakers would remove unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles to providing critical location data,” Sheriff Dart said. “Illinois lawmakers were right to overwhelmingly pass legislation to require automakers to create 24/7 hotlines to provide tracking information after a carjacking in a way that protects consumer privacy. The federal government can easily follow suit here, saving lives and limiting this vicious, violent crime that has left too many people afraid to drive.”
Cook County saw 1,838 reported carjackings in 2022, up 24 percent from 2020. Meanwhile, data from the Council on Criminal Justice shows that the number of carjackings increased 24 percent across seven cities from 2020 to 2022. Those cities include Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis, Norfolk, and San Francisco.
Many vehicles built after 2015 have tracking capabilities, but legal access to that data is routinely delayed when automakers do not staff existing call centers afterhours, require victims to pay a service fee to activate tracking, or institute legally unnecessary hurdles.
To demonstrate the issue, Sheriff Dart played audio of a Sheriff Police Officer’s interaction with Acura in trying to locate a 2020 Acura sedan carjacked at gunpoint from an 85-year-old woman in the 4200 block of west Henderson Street on April 28.
The audio can be found here: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/829235205/0c7ddfb72c
Last week, the General Assembly gave final approval to Sheriff Dart’s proposal, HB2245, to require automakers selling vehicles in Illinois to create a 24/7 hotline to relay location information on carjacked vehicles to police and victims free of charge. The measure also incorporates safeguards to protect consumers, ensuring that location data is only released to police with a warrant or court order, when the vehicle owner consents, or in situations where a vehicle is carjacked and there is a clear and present danger of death or bodily harm.
Co-sponsored by more than 100 lawmakers, including every state senator, the legislation received overwhelming support, with no dissenting votes in the Senate or House. The measure is now heading to Gov. JB Pritzker, and the Sheriff’s Office urges him to sign it.
At the national level, Sheriff Dart has been working with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on the issue.
“Illinois’ new law harnesses the power of technology to give police real-time assistance locating vehicles and makes our communities safer,” U.S. Sen. Durbin said. “There is also an important role for the federal government to play in addressing carjacking, and I’ve been working closely with Sheriff Dart’s office and my colleagues in Washington to coordinate how the federal government can best assist.”
The hotline legislation is just one plank of the Sheriff’s efforts to address carjacking.
Sheriff’s Police are one of the primary agencies in a regional task force that has helped lead to an exponential decrease in the amount of time it takes to locate carjacked vehicles.
Additionally, the Sheriff implemented an innovative consent-to-track form that owners can submit to the Sheriff’s Office to pre-authorize access to vehicle location information in the event it’s illegally taken. Having the completed form on hand will make it easier for law enforcement to access location information from manufacturers
The consent form, safety tips, and carjacking-deterrent decals are available on the Sheriff’s Office website.