Sen. Michael E. Hastings

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) stood alongside Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart at a press conference Wednesday to outline a plan to create a 24/7 recovery hotline to help law enforcement quickly track stolen vehicles as the rise of carjackings continues.

“We must improve technology – law enforcement officials should have the ability to track carjackers and have the tools they need to tackle the increasing problem head on,” Hastings said. “The faster we are able to locate where a carjacker is and arrest them, the safer our communities will be.” 

Chicago's 2021 tally was the most on record over the last 20 years. Carjackings had been steadily declining in the city after 2001, hitting a low of 303 in 2014 but began to tick upward before skyrocketing to 1,400 in 2020 following the onset of the pandemic. Last year saw more than five times as many carjackings as in 2014.

Law enforcement officers said they are at a disadvantage when it comes to putting a stop to the crime because they can’t access real time tracking information after the incident.

The rise of carjacking cases and the inability for police to properly respond has led Hastings to sponsor Senate Bill 4205, which would allow law enforcement to obtain this information when a vehicle has been carjacked or is being used in other violent crimes. Law enforcement would be able to contact auto manufacturers around the clock to ping where the car is located – allowing police to find the perpetrator and arrest them before they get away.

The measure would also 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 would be required to 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.

 “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,” Sheriff 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. “

Senator Hastings hopes to get this measure over the finish line by the planned April 8 adjournment date.