State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) recently filed legislation to save the Illinois Auto Theft Task Force by broadening the scope of the program.
The original law that created the task force — a program to assess the scope of the problem of motor-vehicle theft, as well as develop a statewide plan to combat it — is being amended to broaden the scope of the program, thereby making it more efficient. The proposed legislation allows the task force to use money to battle insurance fraud and auto-theft rings.
In January, budget cuts by Gov. Bruce Rauner led to a $6 million loss in funds needed to keep this program running at full capacity. This is not the first time the program has lost its funding. The current amendment would establish dedicated funds for the program.
“The Auto Theft Task Force is a low-cost, high-results program,” Haine said. “Cutting it would be senseless. The funding for this program comes from a $1 fee that all Illinois auto insurance companies pay on each full-coverage claim. This comes at no cost to the taxpayer.”
The measure also extends the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Trust Fund. The fund provides financial support for programs designed to reduce motor vehicle theft. As the chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, Haine held meetings with Rep. Jerry Costello Jr. to discuss how to keep this program afloat.
“Since the inception of the program, we have had as high as an $8 return for every dollar investment made by the insurance companies,” said Gary Brewer, director of the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force.
“There is currently $1.5 million left in our account,” Brewer said. “If we lose any more funding, we will have no resources to perform multi-jurisdictional investigations, which will cause local law enforcement agencies to take up the task, thereby costing them more money.”
The current legislation passed the House and will be sent to the Senate Insurance Committee.