Auto theft task force shutters after budget cuts -

Auto theft task force shutters after budget cuts

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A special police task force fighting auto theft is shutting down after cuts from the Illinois capital leave the group unfunded.

The Metro East Auto Task Force has been working to prevent car thefts on both sides of the river since 1992.

Recent budget cuts made in Springfield have cut off the $6 million needed to keep the unit in St. Clair and Madison counties, along with the four other units in the state.

"We're at the point where we've shut off all the cell phones, getting ready to shut off all our land lines," said Sergeant Master Gary Brewer.

Sgt. Brewer said there is simply no more money to keep the equipment and agents needed to keep the task force in operation.

The funding for the units came from a one dollar surcharge on all state insurance policies.

"It makes no sense to me to take money that is not taxpayers' dollars, it is money to help reduce the burden on auto policy payers," said Belleville Democrat Jay Hoffman, who wants to try to restore the funding to what was originally intended.

"I don't question their motives and their reasons, but what I do question is, who is going to serve the public?" Sgt. Brewer said.

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