Between the years 1983 to 1994, vehicle theft in Maryland increased by 143%. In 1994, Maryland ranked 12th in the nation in total vehicle thefts and 5th per capita (thefts per 100,000 population). To counter this escalating trend, Governor William Donald Schaefer signed an Executive Order in October, 1992, establishing the Governor's Commission on Vehicle Theft and Related Crimes. The Commission examined all aspects of vehicle theft and developed recommendations to strengthen law enforcement related to vehicle theft; diminish vehicle theft by juveniles; increase usage of anti-theft devices; and generally to increase public awareness of methods to reduce vehicle theft. In response to the Commission's recommendations, legislation was introduced to create the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council (Council) and Vehicle Theft Prevention Fund (Fund) to assist in the prevention and deterrence of vehicle theft and related crimes. The Maryland General Assembly created the Vehicle Theft Prevention Council in 1994, as a statewide planning and dedicated funding resource. The Council embraces a statewide strategy directed at public awareness, vehicle theft by juveniles, law enforcement and prosecution through a grant award process. This strategy has proven to be highly successful in reducing vehicle theft rates throughout the state of Maryland. Since the creation of the Council in 1994, overall vehicle theft rates in Maryland have been reduced by over 58% for an estimated economic savings of over $148 million.
Objectives of the Council
Through grant awards, the Council will support programs intended to reduce motor vehicle theft, improve administration of motor vehicle theft laws, improve or create programs to eliminate vehicle theft by juveniles, enhance vehicle theft prosecutorial efforts, inform motor vehicle owners of the financial and social costs of vehicle theft, and teach methods of motor vehicle theft prevention.
To this end, the Council will:
- Assess the scope of the motor vehicle theft problem in Maryland and identify areas of the State where the incidence of vehicle theft is the greatest.
- Review and evaluate the adequacy of existing vehicle theft data collection efforts and determine what additional research and analysis of vehicle thefts would be worthwhile
- Provide a forum for identification of problems associated with vehicle theft.
- Analyze state and local programs and proposed plans and methods for preventing vehicle theft.
- Develop statewide strategies and sponsor programs to prevent vehicle theft.
- Review existing motor vehicle laws, regulations and procedures and identify the policies or practices that inadvertently facilitate the legitimate registration or transportation of stolen vehicles.
- Support programs designed to prevent vehicle theft by providing financial assistance to State and local law enforcement agencies; local prosecutors' offices; and neighborhood,community or business organizations.
- Provide financial support for a variety of programs targeting juveniles including education and prevention; adjudication and sentencing; and remediation/treatment programs.
- Conduct educational programs to inform vehicle owners of methods of preventing theft and protecting their personal safety while operating a motor vehicle.
- Establish priorities for allocation and disbursement of funds made available to the Council.
- Develop grant criteria and applications; award and monitor grants.
Duties and Responsibilities of the Council
The Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council has the following duties and responsibilities in carrying out its mission:
- To make grants and awards from the fund for motor vehicle theft intervention programs.
- To solicit and accept funds for deposit to the fund to be used to carry out the purpose of the Council.
- To establish or assist in the establishment of programs designed to reduce the incidence of vehicle theft and related crimes.
- To identify priorities for the theft prevention strategies in the state and criteria for the Council's evaluation of recipients receiving assistance from the Council.
- To study and propose laws that will further prevent and deter vehicle thefts and related crime.
Statewide Vehicle Theft Prevention Strategy
In developing a statewide vehicle theft prevention strategy, the Council has embraced the following programmatic approach based on past experiences and efforts in other states which have proven effective in vehicle theft prevention.
- Public Awareness/Prevention/Education
- Vehicle Theft by Juveniles
- Law Enforcement/Detection/Apprehension
Vehicle Theft Prevention Fund
The Vehicle Theft Prevention Fund, established in the Public Safety Article is a non-lapsing dedicated fund.
$2 million/fiscal year from penalties collected for lapsed or terminated insurance coverage (Transportation Article, § 17-106); and
Pursuant to Public Safety Article Section 2-703, grants and awards from the Fund will be available to a variety of organizations including State and local law enforcement agencies, local units of government, prosecutors, juvenile services, and community and business organizations to establish viable, cooperative motor vehicle theft prevention/deterrence/education programs.