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Durbin Calls On FBI, Bureau of Justice Statistics to Collect Nationwide Data on Carjacking

In letters to the FBI and BJS, Durbin reiterates that better data collection will inform prevention and enforcement strategies to protect victims from carjackings

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today wrote letters to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) calling for prompt action to initiate nationwide data collection on carjacking. In his letters, Durbin emphasized that data collection plays a critical role in crime prevention and informing investigation and enforcement strategies that could help save lives.

“Accurately tracking criminal offenses such as carjacking is critical to crime prevention. Law enforcement investigators and researchers are better equipped to analyze trends and patterns in criminal activity when they have access to more granular data, which facilitates finding solutions tailored to the circumstances that most commonly apply to a particular offense. Data collection of robbery, assault, and auto theft offenses does not fully capture the scope of the challenge our nation faces with carjacking, and specific collection of carjacking offense data should become a higher priority at the local, state, and federal levels,” Durbin wrote in the letters.

Durbin went on to ask the FBI and BJS to implement data collection on carjacking offenses through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and the BJS National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Durbin reiterated his commitment to addressing the rise in carjackings through advancing federal legislation to remove obstacles to federally prosecuting this offense and working with automakers and law enforcement to improve uniform theft prevention standards.

“Accordingly, I urge you to initiate the [Criminal Justice Information Services] CJIS advisory process in order to consider adding carjacking to the list of offenses that the FBI’s UCR Program tracks nationally. Asking law enforcement agencies throughout the country to submit data on carjackings would be an important step towards crafting effective responses to prevent carjacking,” Durbin wrote in his letter to the FBI.

“Data collection on carjacking offenses through the BJS National Crime Victimization Survey would enhance efforts to craft policy and law enforcement responses to this crime… National carjacking data would enhance these and other efforts by governments, law enforcement agencies, and industry to make our communities safer from this scourge,” Durbin wrote in his letter to the BJS.

While there currently is no comprehensive nationwide data collection on carjacking, several large cities that do track this offense report a surge in incidents over the last several years, including Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C.

Last month, Durbin wrote to the Department of Transportation and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation to urge the development of uniform standards for swift law enforcement access to vehicle location tracking data in carjacking incidents.

During a December Judiciary Committee field hearing in Chicago, Durbin asked U.S. Attorney John Lausch what specific steps his office is taking in conjunction with local law enforcement to combat carjackings.  Durbin went on to echo Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s appeals to car manufacturers to provide additional tools to investigate these crimes.

Full text of the letter to FBI is available here.

Full text of the letter to BJS is available here.