File Photo – Illinois State Police | Photo via Chicago Police Department

(The Center Square) – The Illinois Secretary of State is distributing millions of dollars to law enforcement agencies and task forces in Illinois in an effort to combat carjackings and car thefts.

More than 1,600 armed carjackings were reported in Chicago last year, and although the problem is less severe downstate, carjackings have been occurring in cities like Peoria and Champaign.

More than half of the $21 million in funding will be going to Illinois State Police and the Chicago Police Department as the city deals with some of the highest numbers of carjackings seen in at least a generation.

“This grant will allow the Illinois State Police to focus additional resources on the prevention and the investigative follow-up for vehicle thefts, hijackings and other related violent crimes,” ISP Director Brendan Kelly said.

[Suggested Article]  Illinois lawmaker will not move forward with controversial bill that would prevent officers from performing certain traffic stops

Other grants are going to the Illinois Statewide Auto Theft Task Force, which is led by Secretary of State police ($3.4 million); the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force ($2.5 million); the Greater Peoria Auto Crimes Task Force ($2.1 million); and the Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force ($1.8 million).

The funding is earmarked to supplement police budgets for license plate readers, tracking devices, GPS software and other technology to hunt down carjackers.

The grant money comes from a $1 annual auto insurance policy assessment managed by the secretary of state’s office.

Funds will be distributed over the next few weeks. The police agencies can apply to renew the grants for the next three years.

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias revealed Thursday that he was a carjacking victim when he was in high school.

[Suggested Article]  NWS says snow could cause slippery travel in Chicagoland area, bringing abrupt end to mild weather

“I will tell you this happened a quarter century ago, and I still leave at least a car length when I stop at a stop light or a stop sign,” Giannoulias said.