Burglars Get Away Too Easily in New Jersey

Burglars Get Away Too Easily in New Jersey

Right now in New Jersey, there’s no imminent threat stopping someone from breaking into your home, according to lawmakers and officials.

A bipartisan measure currently before the New Jersey Legislature would strengthen penalties for burglary in certain cases, and the enhancement includes a presumption of prison time — even if the offender is a minor.

“The main point we’re trying to convey here is that if you commit these types of crimes, you’re going to serve time,” Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, told New Jersey 101.5.

Bucco is one of the main promoters of the measure that was adopted by the Senate in plenary session at the end of June. It creates two new offenses in addition to the classic burglary.

The offenses distinguish between cases where the crime is committed in a residence, as opposed to a business.

Under the bill, the offense of “residential burglary” would be considered a second-degree felony, carrying harsher penalties and a presumption of incarceration.

Under the bill, an individual can be charged with “home invasion,” a first-degree felony, if they commit a burglary with a deadly weapon and/or cause or threaten to cause bodily harm to another person. The offense also carries harsher penalties than a typical burglary, with a presumption of incarceration.

“If we are not able to apply consequences to their actions, there will never be a deterrent,” Bucco said.

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Bucco said the legislation was born out of discussions with police and prosecutors across New Jersey. The proposal has the support of the New Jersey County Prosecutors Association, the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police and the New Jersey Sheriffs Association.

“After an intrusion like this, a person’s home no longer feels like a safe haven because their privacy has been violated, their sanctuary is destroyed,” said Morris County Sheriff James Gannon. “It is our responsibility as law enforcement professionals to diligently protect our citizens, investigate crimes, arrest and prosecute these offenders, and it is the duty of the legislature to help us prevent such harm.”

The bill provides that minors aged 15 and over can be subject to the same penalties as adults. But the goal is not to “put minors in prison and throw away the key,” according to Bucco.

“This project is about giving law enforcement the ability to intervene with these youth before they turn to crime,” Bucco said. “If we can’t put incarceration on the table for young people, how can we make them understand that they’re going down the wrong path?”

The bill was referred to the Assembly’s Public Safety and Preparedness Committee.

Lawmakers are currently on summer recess.

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