SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Syncing your phone to a stolen car will likely lead police straight to your doorstep.
That’s the lesson learned by three Somerset County juveniles this week.
Police charged the three with theft, receiving stolen property and eluding a police officer after they led police on a brief chase Nov. 6.
According to police, the incident started at 5:30 p.m. when the three juveniles skipped out on paying for gas at the Exxon station on New Road and Route 27 in a gold colored Toyota Camry reported stolen from a Franklin Township residence on Oct. 31.
Sgt. Michael Kuchma saw the vehicle heading to Route 1 on New Road and called in the license plate.
When the information came back that the vehicle was reported stolen, Kuchma tried to stop the vehicle, police said.
The juveniles then led police on a chase through Route 1, Major Road and back to Route 1 north, increasing in speed, police said.
The Camry’s driver made a series of turns on Executive Drive, Cornwall Road, and Northumberland Way to lose the pursuing police cars, police said.
As the Camry came back onto Route 1 north, it sideswiped another police car and continued another half-mile on Route 1 before striking a parked car and stopping on Timberline Court of the Royal Oaks apartment complex at the intersection with Henderson Road.
Police said four juveniles exited the vehicle and fled on foot into the woods.
Officers set up a perimeter around the area and searched for the suspects, but were not able to immediately locate them.
Officers from South Brunswick, North Brunswick and Franklin Township took part in the search as well as a K-9 unit from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, police said.
The investigation, however, found that one of the juveniles synchronized their phone to the vehicle via a Bluetooth connection, which displayed their name on the dashboard, police said.
Police also found a backpack belonging to one of the other juveniles that had a school hall pass with their name on it as well.
Officers identified and arrested the juveniles within 48 hours and learned that they ran through the woods for about a half-mile and were able to escape the dragnet by calling Uber for a ride, police said.
The four were released pending their first court appearance, police said.
In a separate incident on Monday night, police identified another stolen vehicle, leading to the driver’s arrest.
Police said that Officer James Kraivec called in a license plate of a Toyota Corolla at 10:25 p.m. on Route 1 and learned the car was stolen in Hazlet, police said.
Kraivec followed the vehicle on Route 1 north until other officers arrived and then activated his lights to pull it over as it exited Route 1 at Jersey Avenue, police said.
The car sped away at about 75 m.p.h. and Kraivec ended the pursuit, police said.
About five minutes later, New Brunswick police reported the vehicle had crashed at on Jersey Avenue near Route 27, and officers had detained one of the juveniles involved.
The juvenile, from Ocean County, was charged with joyriding.
Police are still seeking three other suspects in that case.
Chief of Police Raymond Hayducka credited all the officers involved with making the arrests without any injury to civilians, officers, or the public.
“In these two cases juveniles with little concern for public safety drove stolen cars throughout the township,” Hayducka said. “They committed crimes and attempted to elude officers. The coordination and skill the officers displayed with capturing the suspects without injury or harm is a testament to their training and excellent police work.”