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Runestad bill seeks to crack down on car theft technology

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Jim Runestad on Thursday introduced legislation to combat upward trends of automobile theft in Michigan.

“I recently learned from law enforcement that there has been a concerning increase of car thefts in Southeast Michigan, and they credit handheld computer devices used for automotive key programming and diagnostics,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “While these tools are helpful in the hands of locksmiths and auto mechanics, criminals are taking advantage of this technology at an alarming rate.

“My bill would add computers or other technology that allow an individual to program a key code for a motor vehicle to the state’s burglary equipment statute, which prescribes a felony offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison for individuals found to be in possession of the equipment with the intention to commit theft.”

The Oakland County Sheriff’s office reports that automobile thefts have increased 66.7% and possession of a motor vehicle as stolen property increased 138% from 2020 to 2021.

Senate Bill 870 has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety for consideration.

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