The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved bipartisan legislation today aimed at cracking down on cargo theft in New Jersey, where the crime has grown into a serious problem. The measure, named the Lt. Scott Jenkins Law in memory of a founding member of the State Police Cargo Theft Unit, is sponsored by Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, Assemblyman Dave Rible and 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 we pay for all sorts of products, from televisions to tomatoes ,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “Because New Jersey is so important as a commerce and transportation hub, it has attracted gangs that have made cargo theft a billion dollar problem. Giving law enforcement stronger laws and more resources will help them prevent these sophisticated thieves.” Cargo theft increased 147 percent 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 the North Jersey by Port Elizabeth and Port Newark . The legislation, 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 and helped it grow into a national model of efficiency in the war on the lucrative cargo theft trade. “Roughly $1 billion worth of goods is stolen from New Jersey roads before it hits the stores. This is a very serious crime that puts lives at risk and deals a devastating blow to the economy, increasing prices of clothing, food, pharmaceuticals and just about any product delivered by truck,” said Rible, R-Monmouth, the Assembly Republican Conference Leader and a retired police officer. “Lt. Jenkins was a pioneer in fighting cargo theft and we are proud to sponsor a law in his name that will give law enforcement the tools they need to deter cargo theft.” The bill would create specific criminal provisions for cargo theft including: • 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 activity.