Legislation cracks down on organized grand theft auto

Michigan State Rep. Alabas Farhat speaks to his bill on the House floor.

State Rep. Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn) delivers a speech on House Bill 5183 on Wednesday, May 1, at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing.

LANSING, Mich., May 1, 2024 — State Reps. Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn) and Denise Mentzer’s (D-Mt. Clemens) two-bill package to cut down on auto theft passed the Michigan House of Representatives today. Together, House Bills 5182 and 5183 make knowingly possessing traditional burglar tools or electronic devices to break into motor vehicles with the intent to steal the motor vehicle a five-year felony, or a 10-year felony if part of a criminal enterprise.

“It’s become too easy to steal a car off someone’s driveway, often in less than 60 seconds. These cars are more than just means to get around: it’s how people get to work, drop their kids off at school, or pick up groceries,” said Farhat. “These bills make it easier for our partners in law enforcement to crack down on the wave of auto theft in our state. Michiganders deserve peace of mind knowing that their cars are safe, and today’s bills take a big step toward accomplishing that.”

HB 5182 imposes a five-year felony on knowingly possessing traditional or electronic burglary tools or devices designed or adapted to unlock or turn on a vehicle with the intent to steal the vehicle. If the effort involves more than one person and more than one vehicle and is part of a criminal enterprise, it is a 10-year felony. HB 5183 is tie-barred to HB 5182 and amends the sentencing guidelines in the Code of Criminal Procedure accordingly.

“As physical keys increasingly become tools of the past, we must update the laws accordingly. While these devices are necessary tools for locksmiths, key programming devices can literally open the door to major crime in the wrong hands,” Mentzer said. “Given reports of groups renting these tools out to others, this is a wide-ranging problem that needs to be addressed. These clarifications are necessary to enable law enforcement to stop theft rings before a vehicle is stolen.”

The bills now move to the Senate for consideration.