COOK COUNTY, IL – Illinois lawmakers today overwhelmingly approved legislation to help police more quickly track vehicles after a carjacking, increasing the chances of catching the offenders and stopping the vehicles from being used in additional crimes, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.
The Illinois House gave final approval today to legislation crafted by Sheriff Dart that requires automakers that sell vehicles in the state to create a 24/7 hotline to relay location information on carjacked vehicles to police free of charge. The measure also incorporates safeguards to protect consumers, ensuring that tracking data is only released to police when there is 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, HB2245 received overwhelming support, with no dissenting votes in the Senate and the House. Evidencing the importance of the issue, all 59 senators co-sponsored the legislation in a highly unique show of bi-partisan support. The measure now awaits signing by Gov. JB Pritzker, and the Sheriff’s Office urges him to sign it immediately.
“Carjackings are a horrific crime that has our county on edge. Ultimately, the quicker we can recover these vehicles, the more of these crimes we can prevent and the more likely we are to catch and prosecute these offenders,” Sheriff Dart said. “I want to thank the lawmakers who worked with me on this commonsense solution to help police locate these vehicles faster, while protecting owner privacy. This measure will help victims of these terrifying crimes and significantly decrease the chance that these vehicles will be used to facilitate murders, armed robberies, and other violent acts that brutalize our communities.”
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.
“While some automakers have been extremely cooperative in helping police protect the public, others give us excuses and unnecessary conditions, costing investigators precious hours and even days,” Dart said. “The people of Illinois shouldn’t have to live in fear of becoming a victim at every stop sign, gas station, or even their own driveways.”
Sheriff Dart was the first in the nation to raise this issue with automakers in late 2021 and requested the industry’s collaboration in addressing carjackings. After months of inaction by the auto industry, the Sheriff’s Office pursued legislation sponsored by Rep. Martin Moylan, Sen. Michael Hastings, and Sen. Willie Preston.
“We understand carjackers steal cars around the clock, not just nine to five,” said Rep. Moylan, the bill’s House sponsor. “They steal in the day now, and in the evening, and it doesn’t matter where you are, who you are with, or what you look like, so we made sure we stood firm on a 24-hour, 7 days a week hotline.”
State Sen. Hastings said, “This legislation will be an important tool for law enforcement and consumers during pivotal life-threatening situations. The faster we can locate where a carjacker or kidnapper is and arrest them, the safer our communities will be.”
State Sen. Willie Preston said, “This legislation will help keep Illinois drivers and families safer. By establishing a hotline, we can give our law enforcement the tools they need to help bring down the number of carjackings.”
Cook County saw 1,838 reported carjackings in 2022. That year was down 9 percent from 2021, but still up 24 percent from 2020.
The hotline 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 innovated consent-to-track form that owners can submit to the Sheriff’s Office to pre-authorize 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, safety tips and carjacking-deterrent decals are available here.