On May 9, New Jersey Gov. Christie signed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande and Assembly Republican Conference Leader Dave Rible that cracks down on cargo theft in New Jersey.

The measure is named the "Lt. Scott Jenkins Law" in memory of a founding member of the State Police Cargo Theft Unit, and is sponsored by 17 other Assembly Republicans.

"Cracking down on cargo theft will make our roads safer for truckers and help our economy because these crimes drive up the prices for just about every good sold in our state from televisions to tomatoes," said Casagrande, R-Monmouth, a member of the Appropriations Committee. "Gangs have made cargo theft a billion dollar problem, particularly in New Jersey which is a vital commerce and transportation hub. Giving law enforcement stronger laws and more resources will help them fight back against these sophisticated thieves."

The legislation, S-2092/A-3003, is named after Lt. Scott Jenkins, who died of cancer in 2003. He was a founding member of the State Police Cargo Theft Unit.

Cargo theft increased 147% in New Jersey from 2009 to 2010, making it a state to watch according to a survey by FreightWatch International, a Texas-based logistics security provider. Hudson and Middlesex counties rank among the top ten risk zones in the country for cargo theft.

Law enforcement estimate thieves steal between $700 million and $1 billion worth of cargo every year in New Jersey, particularly in North Jersey by Port Elizabeth and Port Newark.

The law will create specific criminal provisions for cargo theft:

  • Fines against leading or organizing a cargo theft networks of $250,000 for a second-degree crime, $500,000 for a first-degree offense or five times the value of property seized - whichever is greater.
  • New criminal offense for operating a facility to sell or store stolen cargo.
  • Additional fines against those convicted of cargo theft to fund law enforcement against cargo theft.

Want to learn more about cargo theft and cargo security? Read HDT's award-winning 2011 cover story, "9 Ways to Keep Cargo Safe & Secure."