Auto-Theft Task Forces Closing Amid Illinois Budget Crisis

March 31, 2015

Officials with police-run auto-theft task forces say they are shutting down across Illinois due to state spending freezes.

Separately, the (Peoria) Journal Star also reports that a bipartisan deal reached in the state Legislature last week will siphon $6 million in auto-theft task force grants to help cover a $1.6 billion hole in the state budget.

Local departments pulled task force personnel almost immediately after Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner froze nonessential spending with an executive order in January. However, the task forces themselves still are continuing to operate.

Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says funding for the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Trust Fund was cut to help fill the budget hole but will resume in fiscal year 2016.

The budget deal that Rauner signed combines across-the-board cuts with more than $1 billion in fund transfers to keep the state’s child care and other programs running.

Money collected from a $1-per-policy car insurance fee went to fund the teams of police that focus on car theft investigations. The grants support task forces, which are made up of investigators form several police agencies within a geographic area.

Master Sgt. Gary Brewer, who heads the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force in Belleville, said they’ve been given “no direction” on how to shut down the task forces, which have proven effective at reducing auto theft and saving money for insurance companies.

Motor vehicle theft in Illinois has dropped 73 percent since 1991, the same year the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act was passed.

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