HOLMDEL — Officials in this Monmouth County municipality are proposing a law that would fine or imprison someone who tries to open, unlock, or even stand near a vehicle that is not theirs.

The proposed ordinance, scheduled for a final vote by the Township Committee on Dec. 13, comes amid reports of car theft rates increasing by around 20% a year in New Jersey since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The Holmdel ordinance, introduced on Nov. 22, would make it illegal for anyone who does not own or have permission to access a certain vehicle "to enter or remain on any driveway, paved surface, or location within 20 feet" of that car when parked.

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The proposal would prohibit people from pulling a door handle or otherwise trying to gain entry, possessing any kind of device that could detect whether an electronic key is inside the car, or even peering into a window.

Additionally, the ordinance seeks to prosecute anyone who is present within a vehicle upon which another person has committed any of the listed offenses.

The committee is proposing a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first offense and $2,000 for each subsequent violation, with fines not to exceed $2,000 for any individual act.

A prison term of up to 90 days upon conviction could also be levied by a judge in place of or in addition to the fine.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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