PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — New Illinois laws will take effect on January 1 to address a sharp increase in carjackings and thefts.

Data from the National Crime Information Center shows that 745,000 cars were stolen during the first three quarters of 2022. It’s a 24 percent increase compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

Beginning at the start of the new year, Illinois will have three new laws on the books to crack down on those committing the crimes and help victims.

The first law will make it a felony to possess tools that unlock or start a car without permission from the owner, including duplicating signals from a key fob.

Another law will protect carjacking victims from being responsible for fees or violations that occurred while their vehicle was stolen.

The third law will provide grants for programs that prevent more cars from being taken.

Jeffrey Brewer, VP of public affairs for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association said the laws are important, especially for safety.

“When a car is carjacked, you know, a person’s life can be put in danger or sometimes kids are in the backseat, you know, and they get driven away. So we want to deter anything like that as best we can,” Brewer said.

He said it’s also important for drivers to not make themselves a target.

“If you’re going to leave something in your car make sure it’s hidden so that you can’t see it and park in a well-lit area. Make sure your windows are all rolled up,” Brewer said. “Some people use the devices that keep your steering wheel from turning.”

Brewer said he encourages drivers to purchase comprehensive insurance, in case their vehicle is stolen.