LIVINGSTON, NJ — Despite car burglaries and thefts reported in Livingston as recently as this weekend, Chief of Police Gary Marshuetz took an optimistic view of these incidents on Monday, announcing that five of the six vehicles stolen out of Livingston since Jan. 1, 2019 have been recovered and that five suspects have been apprehended and charged by Livingston police in relation to the thefts.

“In the Suburban communities and townships in our area, a lot of us, including Livingston, have been experiencing some motor vehicle thefts and it’s happening in the early morning hours,” said Marshuetz as he commended Livingston patrol officers and detectives on their hard work. “We are the envy of other police departments in the area because we’ve been very proactive about it, and our successes are certainly worth mentioning.”

The most recent incident occurred on Sunday, when a resident observed two suspicious men dressed in dark clothing and ski masks on his neighbor’s property attempting to enter the neighbor’s car. Officers Grieco and Sommerville responded on the scene thanks to the resident’s call and located two men walking in the area with ski masks on.

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According to police, the individuals were detained until the witness was able to positively identify them. Arrested were Hakeem Caldwell and Wanya McHenry, both 18 years old of Newark. They were charged with trespassing and conspiracy to commit motor vehicle theft. Police noted that both individuals, who were also issued summonses and released, were arrested last month in Millburn in a similar incident.

Last week on March 8, police were called to 20 Stoneham Drive on a report of a Mercedes sedan that was stolen from a garage. The theft occurred between about 9 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. on Friday, according to police. 

Police noted that the garage door had been left open and the key fob was left in the vehicle. After taking the report, police quickly tracked the Mercedes to Elizabeth, where the car was found parked behind an apartment complex.

On the same day, police took reports from three residents who reported that someone had entered their cars during the previous night. The cars that were entered were on Tremont Terrace, Oakwood Avenue and East Cedar Street.

The next day, a Maplewood Drive resident discovered that a 2018 Acura ILX, which had been left unlocked with the key fob inside, was stolen sometime between midnight and 7 a.m. Officers canvassed the neighborhood but were unable to find video of the theft.

According to police, the Acura was recovered in Newark on Sunday evening and had been abandoned with several bullet holes in the windshield.

Marshuetz noted that all six of the stolen vehicles had key fobs left inside them by the owner. He urged all residents to remove key fobs and other valuables from their vehicles and to keep them locked.

In other Livingston police news, Nicholas Constantinou, 35, of Livingston was recently arrested on drug charges following a car stop in the area of N. Mitchell Avenue/Route 10.

Officers Whelan and Cordero stopped Constantinou for having tinted windows, and an investigation led to the discovery of marijuana, canabis oil and a vape pen in the vehicle. Constantinou was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and traffic violations.

He was released with summonses pending a hearing in Livingston Municipal Court.