BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Despite the widespread COVID-19 lockdown, Bernards Township police said that burglars, car thieves and even a man from a neighboring town who reportedly entered an unlocked vehicle for a snooze have been out and about in recent weeks.

Police said officers responded to a report of an attempted burglary at the Crawlers to Scholars buildings at 409 King George Road at about 3 p.m. on April 5. While checking the building, officers noted the point of entry and most likely exit were two windows on the south side of the building.

According to this week's police report, muddy footprints were found inside the building, indicating that the suspects(s) appeared to have made entry into the room, walked approximately halfway into the room and then apparently left.

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No items were reported missing from the business, police said. Surveillance footage is being reviewed to identify the suspect(s).

Township police again reminded residents to lock vehicles and to avoid leaving key fobs inside, resulting in a series of successful and attempted vehicle thefts.

Police said that at about 6:15 a.m. on April 7, officers responded to a report of an unoccupied vehicle with the engine running in the middle of Maple Run. Police reportedly located a 2019 Grey Jeep Cherokee. It was apparent that suspect(s) attempted to steal the vehicle, according to police.

Police said the contacted the owner of the vehicle, a resident on Maple Run. The owner reportedly told police that the vehicle hadn't been driven for a while, but apparently told police that the car is unlocked and with the key fob in it. The owner was advised not to do this, according to police.

Officers responded to East Craig Street at about 7 a.m. on April 7 for a report of an unknown vehicle parked in a driveway after the resident apparently awoke to find an unknown 2019 Black Ford van in their driveway. Police said they tracked down the registered owner of the vehicle, and traced the vehicle to the driver who lived in town. Police said that again, the vehicle had been left unlocked and keys left inside.

Also on April 7, two vehicle burglaries were reported, one on Sunnybrook Road and one on Berta Place, police said. Both vehicles were unlocked. No items take from inside the vehicles. "The suspects were not lucky in this instance because although the vehicles were unlocked, the keys were not inside," police said.

Sleeping man found inside unlocked vehicle

Police also said a resident of Old Madisonville Road found an unknown male asleep in his car at about 7 a.m. on April 9. The vehicle, which the owner stated was left unlocked, was parked overnight on the street directly in front of his home. 

After calling the police, officers responded and identified the individual as Vilmar Dionicio Perez Carreto of Claremont Ave in Bernardsville. Due to a language barrier, Carreto appeared to have gotten lost while walking home, police said.

Police said that while attempting to walk home, Carreto apparently came across the unlocked vehicle in the street, proceeded to urinate on the vehicle and, being tired, reportedly opened the unlocked vehicle and decided to go to sleep. Carreto was taken home by the police.

On April 9, officers reportedly received a telephone report of a burglary and theft of a vehicle that had occurred on April 7. The resident, who lives on North Maple Avenue, reported that their unlocked vehicle had been entered and their wallet was reportedly taken from the center console. The wallet, a driver’s license, $25 in cash, and possibly a Starbucks gift card all were reported as apparently stolen, police said. There are no suspects, police said.

On April 11, the Martinsville Exxon reported a theft of gas valued at $55, police said. According to an attendant at the gas station, an unknown black male reportedly pulled up to the pumps and flashed several twenty-dollar bills in his hand and told the attendant to fill it up. After doing so, the attendant removed the gas nozzle and the allegedly driver sped off, police said. Police said the attendant was unable to obtain the registration for the vehicle. Police were able to identify the vehicle as a 2014 black Jeep Grand Cherokee which had allegedly been stolen out of Shrewsbury Township on April 9. The suspect is unknown, police said. Police added that the keys were left in the unlocked vehicle before it was stolen.

Also on April 11, three unlocked vehicles, all belonging to residents at a home on Melbourne Way, were reportedly burglarized some time between April 8 to 11, police said. The vehicles were left unlocked during that timeframe, and a New York Police department retired family member's wallet and badge were reportedly taken, police said.

Other crimes reported involving unlocked vehicles included:

On April 14, a resident of Mount Airy Road reported that their 2014 Black Dodge Durango which was left unlocked and with the key fob inside had been stolen, police said. The vehicle was subsequently located in Newark, NJ on April 16.

On April 14, a resident of Oak Ridge Road, reported that a 2018 black Porsche which was unlocked in the driveway, and an unlocked 2013 blue Lexis was burglarized, police said. An I-pad and Garmin GPS reportedly were taken out of the Lexis.

On April 14, a second resident also reported that two vehicles were entered but no items were taken, police said. The vehicles, a 2011 Volkswagen and a 2007 Mercedes Benz had been left unlocked, police said.

Car pursuit terminated by police because 'too dangerous,' but suspects located anyway

On April 12, at approximately 8:46 p.m., Chester Township police broadcast an attempt to locate a blue Honda Civic bearing a NJ registration that was involved in a hit and run in that municipality, police said. Bernards officer McCrea reportedly responded to Route 78 in anticipation of the vehicle potentially heading that way.

At approximately 9:15 p.m., McCrea observed the vehicle and began to follow it, police said. The driver, later identified as 20-year-old Sawn R. Simms of Clifton Place in Jersey City, and passenger Jeremy M. Torres 21, of Linden Avenue in Jersey City, allegedly sped off in an attempt to elude police, after the police vehicle apparently turned on the light. The vehicle then increased its speed to approximately 110 m.p.h. and kept its lights off, according to police.

Police said that McCrea terminated the pursuit because the officer determined that it was too dangerous. While attempting to locate a turnaround on the highway, McCrea observed the suspect vehicle had crashed into the center median near exit 41, according to the police report. McCrea and other officers reportedly removed the suspects from the vehicle and placed them under arrest for eluding, possession of marijuana under 50 grams and drug paraphernalia.

The Bernards Township Police would like to continue to remind everyone to report suspicious activity observed by calling 908-766-1122. "Please keep vehicles locked, without the keys in them and valuables out of sight, [and] pay particular attention to suspicious activity at neighbors’ homes," police said.