Giannoulias Awards State Grants to Combat Carjackings, Car Thefts

Giannoulias Awards State Grants to Combat Carjackings, Car Thefts 

Law Enforcement Agencies to Receive More than $11 Million Statewide

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias announced more than $11 million in new grants to assist law enforcement agencies throughout the state in protecting against the surge in carjackings and vehicle thefts.  

The Illinois Vehicle Hijacking and Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention and Insurance Verification Council, which Giannoulias’ office oversees, distributed grants to six law enforcement agencies that can start using the funds July 1. To fund the grants, the insurance industry provides $1 for every passenger vehicle it insures to the Secretary of State’s Office. 

“These grants are a matter of public safety and provide our law enforcement agencies with the personnel, tools and tech resources they need to help safeguard residents from the rise of violent carjackings and car thefts,” Giannoulias said. “For many of us, our vehicle serves as a lifeline. We depend on it for work, running errands, shuttling our kids around to practices and camps and visiting loved ones. To have it stolen can have terrible consequences for families and upend their lives. This taskforce plays a critical role by ensuring local, state, and federal law enforcement officers must work together to address these crimes.”

"To stop crime you have to solve crime – and to solve crime you have to have resources," said Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly. "This grant funding will allow the Illinois State Police to focus additional resources on catching those committing vehicle thefts, hijackings and other related violent crimes."

“The Illinois Statewide Auto Theft Task Force (ISATT) would like to thank Secretary Giannoulias for his unwavering support in the fight against vehicular hijacking, catalytic converter theft, and vehicle theft,” said Illinois Secretary of State Police Lieutenant and Director of ISATT Adam Broshous. “His support has aided in the recovery of thousands of stolen vehicles and the prevented theft of untold thousands more. As vehicle crimes are often associated with violent crimes, these grants are making an impact on keeping our communities safer.”

“The Chicago Police Department is grateful for the generous grant provided by Secretary Giannoulias through the Vehicle Hijacking and Motor Vehicle Theft and Insurance Verification Council,” said Chicago Police Department Deputy Chief of Detectives Kevin Bruno. “The funds will be instrumental in advancing our auto theft and vehicle hijacking efforts, which focus on theft prevention, stolen vehicle recovery and the prosecution of offenders.”

“The Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force would like to thank the Illinois Secretary of State and the Illinois Vehicle Hijacking and Motor Vehicle Theft and Insurance Verification Council for their continued support,” said Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force Director Zach Johnston. “With their funding we are able to continue our mission in combating auto theft related crimes.”

Law enforcement agencies can use the awards for salaries and benefits for personnel assigned to vehicle theft prevention units, vehicles, computers, vehicle tracking devices, GPS data, evidence kits, body cameras and drones for aerial vehicle searches.  

The grant funding enabled law enforcement agencies to expand access to dedicated vehicle theft investigators and prosecutors at their local state’s attorney office. Law enforcement can use the money to hire dedicated auditors to verify scrap shops and body shops are not using stolen parts or metal.  

The additional funding has also enabled law enforcement agencies to work collaboratively with federal and local units to address instances of title fraud and investigate cases of fraudulent vehicle identification numbers (VIN) before vehicles can be resold or recover vehicles fraudulently sold.  

Grant funding has also been used to expand operations to address cargo theft, where vehicles such as semitrucks are stolen for their goods. One task force recovered a stolen trailer containing medical supplies.  

The Council’s prevention efforts have more than halved annual theft rates since 1991 from more than 75,000 stolen vehicles to less than 30,000 in 2021. While crime rates have surged in recent years due to economic disruption caused by the pandemic, the rates are still nowhere near what they were when the Council was created.

In 2022, the most recent vehicle theft data, there were 38,649 thefts statewide, an increase of more than 10,000 cases compared to the year prior. More than 22,000 of the thefts occurred in Chicago that year, where thefts doubled compared to 2021.  

Videos demonstrating how to steal certain car models have gained popularity in recent years, making it easier for those trying to steal a vehicle, the Council’s 2023 report found.   

Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force (TCAT), City of Joliet   $2,269,500  

Illinois Statewide Auto Theft Task Force (ISATT)*   $3,376,815  

Chicago Major Auto Theft Investigations Unit (CMATI), Chicago Police Department* $1,407,963  

Metro East Auto Theft Task Force (MEATTF), St. Clair County Sheriff's Department $2,438,954  

Greater Peoria Auto Crimes Task Force (GPACT), Peoria Police Department   $1,501,100  

Expressway Safety Enforcement Group (ESEG), Illinois State Police   $676,978  

Total   $11,671,310  

*Issued as one grant.  

From 2019 to 2022, the Council issued $24 million in grants and recovered $92 million worth of stolen vehicles, meaning the return on investment for stolen vehicle recovery is $4 for every $1 spent on grant funding.   

The 11 members of the Council are dedicated to finding the best strategies to prevent carjackings, vehicle theft and recyclable metal theft.   

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