JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — It’s a crime that can be an expensive nuisance.
One Missouri lawmaker says car break-ins are also becoming more dangerous.
Legislation filed today in Jefferson City that aims to put a stop to an all-too common crime in some neighborhoods.
The representative who filed the bill said he’s responding to concerns from law enforcement.
State Representative David Gregory says police chiefs have shared with him concerns about an escalation in the danger surrounding car break-ins and a concern Missouri’s current law is out of date.
State Rep David Gregory, R-Sunset Hills, said, “If no one is in the vehicle the car is just parked outside on the street or even in the driveway, it’s not necessarily a felony. It would become stealing and it depends on the item that was stolen. If it’s under $750 it would be a misdemeanor”
Gregory has filed House Bill 2666 which would make the crime of stealing any item from a car a felony.
He says police agencies are seeing more break-in rings involving armed suspects.
Some of the concerns in Missouri include a 2019 incident where an officer investigating a car break-in was wounded after encountering an armed suspect.
And another case where shots were fired at a homeowner after he interrupted the suspects.
“They are organized criminals that are literally going out with a point man, someone’s got a gun in person points a gun at the home while the others jump in an unlocked car and try to steal items and so what this bill does is it tackles exactly that. If you’re going to steal any item from inside a vehicle it’s still going to be a felony that we can tack on armed criminal action.”
Gregory says armed criminal action carries with it a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison if convicted.
“The problem here is that these these criminals are going in and breaking into peoples cars in driveways right outside their homes on the streets and they’re bringing guns with them.”
He believes the tougher penalty would lead to fewer car break-ins and ultimately safer neighborhoods.
Because the bill was just filed there is no hearing scheduled.
Rep. Gregory said he looks forward to any future debate on his bill.