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Haine working to keep Auto Theft Task Force from being dissolved

From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, is pursuing legislation to save the Illinois Auto Theft Task Force by broadening the scope of the program.

The original law that created the Auto Theft Task Force is being amended to broaden the scope of the program and thereby make it more efficient. The proposed legislation allows the task force to use money to battle things such as insurance fraud and auto-theft rings.

The current program is designed to assess the scope of the problem of motor-vehicle theft, as well as develop and implement a statewide plan to combat it.

In January, budget cuts by Gov. Bruce Rauner led to a $6 million loss in funds needed to keep the program running at full capacity. Haine said it’s 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 one-dollar 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 trust 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.

Gary Brewer, director of the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force said, “Since the inception of the program we have had as high as an $8 dollar return for every dollar investment made by the insurance companies.

“There is currently $1.5 million left in our account. 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,” Brewer said.

The current legislation passed the House and will be sent to the Senate Insurance Committee.

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