In response to the surge in car thefts happening across New Jersey, state Attorney General Matt Platkin announced Friday he is reversing a policy that prevented police officers from pursuing stolen cars.

In late 2021, Platkin put in this statewide policy, which stated that police could only chase a stolen car if they suspected it had been used in the most serious of crimes, such as murder, vehicular homicide or kidnapping.

In other words, police could not pursue a car simply because it had been stolen.

But Platkin said Friday he listened to police officers who disagreed with his decision, and is now permitting police to chase a car they think has been stolen.

“I want especially for our folks in law enforcement to know I have listened to their concerns and, as a result of those listening sessions, today we are making modifications to that policy: Specifically, we will permit pursuits based on the commission of several additional crimes, notably car theft and receiving a stolen vehicle,” Platkin said. “These changes will give law enforcement the tools they need to protect their communities.”

He announced this at a press conference held in Marlboro Township, one of the many Monmouth County suburban towns currently experiencing a car theft surge.

“The thefts have become more brazen, happening in broad daylight while people are unloading groceries. This is something that is completely unacceptable,” said Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik.

Last year, Platkin said he wanted to limit police chases because high-speed car chases are dangerous, and can put police officers and innocent drivers alike at risk. It was part of an overhaul led by Gov. Phil Murphy to reduce the use of force by police.

But New Jersey is currently experiencing a surge of people stealing cars: The first three months of 2022 saw a 53 percent increase in motor vehicle thefts from 2020, said the governor’s office. It’s even more serious for luxury cars: High-end motor vehicle thefts skyrocketed 127 percent from last January to the end of January 2022, according to State Police.

“This is a serious threat to our state’s safety. We recognize this is affecting every community across our state, urban and suburban,” said Platkin.

“The alarming uptick we are seeing in vehicle theft is unacceptable,” said Murphy Friday.

Additionally, at that same Friday press conference both Platkin and Gov. Murphy announced that the state will be using $10 million in American Rescue Plan funds to purchase automated license plate recognition technology.

Local police departments will be given money to purchase high-speed, automated camera systems that can capture and store computer-readable images of license plates. These license-plate readers will be placed at “strategic locations throughout” towns, said the governor’s office.

NJ State Police will also deploy cameras along major roadways that run throughout the state, such as along the Turnpike.

“This automated license plate reader technology is, quite simply, a game changing moment,” said State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan.

Stolen cars are frequently associated with other violent crimes, particularly shootings. A significant percentage of individuals who commit auto theft have also been involved in shootings.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the most commonly stolen luxury cars are BMW X6, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

The top vehicles stolen statewide so far in 2022 include Honda Accord, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda CR-V, BMW X5 and BMW 3-Series, said State Police.