MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – With 640 vehicles stolen in Morris County from 2018-2020 – and the vast majority of them with the keys in the car – law enforcement is once again asking residents to lock their cars and remove the key fobs from their vehicles.
The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Intelligence Unit, Morris County Auto Theft Task Force, and Morris County Sheriff’s Trends and Analysis Team have been combating the recent trend of thefts of unlocked vehicles throughout northern New Jersey that are stolen by organized thieves targeting communities like Denville. Specifically, during 2018, 2019 and 2020, Morris County law enforcement identified a significant increase in motor vehicle burglaries and thefts within the county. In total, there were 640 motor vehicles stolen in Morris County during the three-year period. Law enforcement has found that these vehicles are often stolen or burglarized during the overnight hours while residents are sleeping. Many of the vehicles taken by thieves were left unlocked, with key fobs left inside the car. Eighty-seven percent of the vehicles stolen in Morris County in 2020 have had keys or a key fob located within the vehicle. Thieves often target luxury vehicles but also steal other vehicles to commit violent crimes, including robberies.
It is important that residents remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement. According to the Morris County Chiefs of Police Association, a recent criminal behavior has also included vehicle entry to steal garage door openers enabling access to the home itself, clearly escalating the danger to residents. It is imperative that each night, residents follow a routine of checking to make sure their vehicles are locked and doors secured before going to sleep.
Morris County law enforcement is working collectively to disrupt these organized thieves and are asking the public to do their part by taking preventative steps to secure their homes, garages and motor vehicles.
Law enforcement also is asking for help solving crimes by reporting any suspicious activity that you view on your personal surveillance cameras. Please report this information even if you are not the victim of a crime because it may assist law enforcement in solving other thefts. Call the Denville Township Police Department non-emergency line at 973-627-4900.
Morris County Sheriff James Gannon stated, “Almost all of the cars stolen in Morris County this year were taken because the fob was left in the vehicle. These criminals have several ways of determining which vehicles contain the electronic keys before approaching them. My strong recommendation is this – take your key fob in the house and place it on your nightstand. Making your car inaccessible is the greatest deterrent. Not only does this habit safeguard your vehicle but if you hear activity outside, you can remotely turn on your car lights from bed, or activate your car alarm to scare the would-be thieves away.”
“This pandemic has not slowed down the car thieves a bit,” stated Thomas Williver, president of the Morris County Chiefs of Police Association. “The Morris County Chiefs of Police Association can't stress to our citizens enough to remember to take your key fobs out of your vehicles and lock your doors at all times. The task force is making great progress and will continue to work hard to bring these thieves to justice.”
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