LIVINGSTON, NJ – Livingston Police Chief Craig Handschuch made an appearance at the Nov. 4 town council conference meeting to discuss recent car thefts that have occurred throughout the township. Between Jan. 1, and Sept. 30, there have been a total of 26 cars stolen. Handschuch described the thefts as a “crime wave” and a “county-wide epidemic for 2013.”

“Twenty out of the 26 vehicles had the keys left in them … with 12 vehicles taken from residential structures, 13 taken from businesses, and one was taken from across the street from Memorial Park,” said Handschuch.

Livingston police have so far arrested three individuals believed to be involved with the crimes and have identified an additional six suspects. “We’ve been very diligent with collecting fingerprint data and DNA evidence from the vehicles that have been recovered,” Handschuch stated. Police have discovered that the majority of the stolen vehicles are being exported to Africa.

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“The thieves are using a device that they (can use to) just ride through the neighborhoods, if the FOB is left in the car it (the device) will automatically flash the lights of the car … and they just run to the driveway and grab the car.”

Town Manager Michele Meade advises for residents to “lock your car even if it’s in your driveway, don’t leave your key FOB in your car, and if your car is locked, don’t leave anything visible that people may want to steal.” 

Handschuch plans on writing an article to be made publicly available to reinforce the message. “We have seen a decrease in the thefts county-wide … we hope the apprehension of these six suspects will continue to reduce the rate of crime,” he said.

Bunnie Ratner also made an appearance at the conference representing the Juvenile Conference Committee as a chairperson. The Juvenile Conference Committee was set up for first offender children under the age of 18 to be dealt with “at a community level” instead of by the court system.

The program tries to “analyze why the child has become an offender” and takes them out of the court system if they agree with the committee’s “resolution”, as Ratner explained.

“If they decide they will accept what our resolution is we give them a timeline that has to be done … some work in the library, they do community service, work at veterinarians’ places - we have numerous programs that we can refer the children to, and so far it's worked very well.”

Ratner also explained that repeat offenders would not be accepted into the program. “We explain to the parents … that if the child gets caught a second time … they are not going to get the opportunity to come before our group.”

“You’re keeping kids from getting criminal records, and that’s very important,” Township Attorney Sharon Weiner said.

In other news, the council decided that a labor counsel service change order must be done due to going over-budget, there will be a rezoning lot to be passed for the Hospital Healthcare District for more parking, and according to Mayor Rudy Fernandez, a recent review has found a “successful” acquisition of grants in the 2013 Grant Report.

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Message from Chief Handschuch