BUCKS COUNTY – Sen. Frank Farry (R-6) and Reps. K.C. Tomlinson (R-18), Joe Hogan (R-142), Kristin Marcell (R-178) and Shelby Labs (R-143) joined local law enforcement officials yesterday at the Northampton Police Department to unveil legislation that addresses the rising and evolving crime in Pennsylvania, specifically around Philadelphia.
“As society evolves, so do the crimes happening in our communities,” Farry said. “We want to ensure that our law enforcement and prosecutors have the right tools to be able to properly charge these crimes and ultimately lead to the convictions of criminals who are causing chaos in our community, harming our residents and disrupting their daily lives.”
Joining Farry and his colleagues at the press conference at the Northampton Police Department were Dan Friel, chief of police in Warrington Township; Bill McVey, director of Public Safety Bensalem Township Police Department; Fred Harran, Sheriff of Bucks County, a representative from State Troopers Association; and over twenty local law enforcement leaders.
During the press conference, Chief Friel shared that theft of catalytic converters in Warrington Township are up 85% since last year, and firearm offenses up 133% and these crimes are not typically committed by residents from our area. The criminals are coming to our communities and stealing from our residents.
The crime package includes six pieces of legislation. The first bill introduced by both Farry and Tomlinson would impose mandatory jail time for illegal possession of a firearm. For a first offense, the criminal would receive mandatory jail time of under two years. For a second offense a mandatory five-year jail sentence would apply and 15 years for their third offense. Tomlinson introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
Farry’s bill to crack down on porch pirating already passed the Senate and would implement specific penalties for theft of mail, which includes a package, bag or letter. The grading of this offense would increase if the person had prior convictions for theft of mail. Tomlinson and Marcell have a similar bill.
Part of the crime package includes legislation introduced by Farry and Hogan to increase penalties for gun store robberies. The bill would heighten the penalty to burglaries where the intent of the actor is to commit a theft of a firearm and additional penalties if any of the stolen firearms are used for additional crime. It would also try juveniles as adults who commit this crime as well as increase penalties for those who conspire to commit this crime.
Recognizing vehicle meet-up rallies have become a recent problem in our communities, Farry, Hogan and Tomlinson introduced legislation that would increase the fine for street racing from $250 up to $2,000 per violation, with the driver’s vehicle being seized after second violation. It would also add the offense of drifting, and steep fines for those who organized, financed, or promoted the event.
Farry and Tomlinson also jointly introduced legislation to reduce the theft of catalytic converters. A person who intentionally possesses a detached catalytic converter that is not affiliated with a commercial account without proper justification commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.
The last piece of legislation was introduced by Farry, Labs and Marcell to address the rioting in our communities and would hold the rioters and those involved accountable. Rioters assaulting or throwing projectiles at police, law enforcement and first responders would face felony charges. It would also make it a felony for out of state actors to cause or aid in rioting as well as a felony charge for Pennsylvania residents who knowingly assist, coordinate or recruit out-of-state actors to cause a riot.