BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Bernards Township police are investigating a rash of motor vehicle burglaries and one car theft that occurred during the overnight hours of Sunday, June 3. Police are also pleading with residents not to leave their vehicles unlocked, and said that all of the vehicles burglarized last weekend had been unlocked.

Twelve vehicles were illegally entered in the northern section of the township, including Cherry Lane, Walnut Circle, East Craig Street, Ellis Drive and Berta Place, police said. Cash and other valuables left in the unlocked vehicles were taken, police said.

In addition, police said a 2012 Toyota Highlander was stolen from the driveway of a residence on Ellis Drive. The vehicle was recovered later in the day in East Hanover, after the vehicle was reported stolen and East Hanover police spotted and pursued it. The suspects in the vehicle, described only as a black male and female, were subsequently able to avoid capture after fleeing the vehicle on foot, according to the Bernards Township police report. 

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"It is uncertain if these crimes are associated with a larger network of criminal activity that has been happening around the state," Bernards police said in a report issued through Chief Michael Shimsky on Monday night.

The police department earlier on Monday had issued a warning about the recent thefts, and outlined several steps that residents should take to make vehicle thefts more difficult.

Police especially emphasized that residents should not leave vehicles unlocked with the keys inside, "including while parked in the garage!"

In addition, police said they wanted to remind residents to keep valuables in vehicles out of sight. "Report suspicious activity in your neighborhood immediately to the police at 908-766-1122," the police report added. For all emergencies, residents are asked to dial 9-1-1.

Anyone with information asked to call police

Anyone having any information regarding these incidents should call the Bernards Township detectives at 908-766-1122.

Tips on how to avoid becoming a victim

Police listed the following steps that residents should take to help prevent themselves from becoming a victim:

1) Do not leave valuables in plain view, (purses, wallets, GPS devices, laptops, PDA’s, cell phones, MP3’s)
2) Do not leave windows or the sunroof open
3) Do not leave doors unlocked.
4) Do not leave keys or key fobs inside the vehicle
5) Do not leave garage door opened or unlocked
6) Do not leave the garage door opener in plain view