LIVINGSTON, NJ — As a result of the vigilant initiative put forth by the nine municipalities included in the recently established West Essex Task Force, several individuals have been apprehended and arrested in connection to a string of vehicle entries and burglaries that have occurred during the overnight hours in Livingston, Roseland and surrounding areas.

Over the weekend in Livingston, two vehicles that had been left unlocked with the key fobs inside were stolen from driveways during the overnight hours. According to police, both vehicles—including a 2016 Mercedes S550 stolen from a driveway on Chaucer Court and a 2019 Porsche Cayenne stolen from a driveway on Sandalwood Drive—were later recovered in Newark.

On Sunday, Livingston police responded to numerous reports of unlocked cars being entered and rummaged through in the area of Carteret Road and Burnet Hill Drive with cash, credit cards and small personal items missing from some cars.

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However, Livingston Police Chief Gary Marshuetz explained that the suspects in the vehicle break-ins were not the same suspects involved in the vehicle thefts earlier in the weekend. 

“The thefts of the high-end motor vehicles is something that has been plaguing municipalities all over Essex, Morris, Somerset and Bergen counties, so it's a problem that is not isolated just to Livingston,” said Marshuetz. “This is a problem that has been plaguing all of North Jersey, and we have been taking some proactive steps to try to combat the high-end motor vehicle thefts.”

Around the same time that Livingston officers found property stolen from Hanover Township residents scattered on side streets on Sunday, Hanover police reported that they had apprehended seven juvenile males. According to Hanover police, the teens were from Connecticut and were in possession of a 2019 Honda Pilot that was reported stolen from New York.

The juveniles led Hanover officers on a chase into Fairfield before being arrested, at which point they were found to have items stolen from Livingston in their possession, according to police.

On Monday, Livingston police received a new round of calls for cars being entered during the overnight hours on Collinwood Avenue, Edgemere Road and Coddington Terrace, where residents reported that their cars—all of which had been left unlocked—were rummaged through during the night.

The Borough of Roseland, which also had several cars burglaries during the same time period with one vehicle stolen, issued a statement on Monday that the police department was working to identify the window of time that these suspects were attempting to enter vehicles to increase chances of apprehending them.

In order to do so, the West Essex Task Force—which includes members of the Livingston, Roseland, West Caldwell, Caldwell, North Caldwell, Fairfield, Essex Fells, Verona and Cedar Grove Police Departments—announced on Monday that an enhanced police presence would be launched as part of its aggressive, proactive initiative to stop the string of car thefts and break-ins in these suburban Essex County neighborhoods.

At approximately 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, members of the West Essex Task Force stopped a motor vehicle on South Orange Avenue in Livingston. All five occupants of the vehicle—including two juveniles and three adults—were taken into custody on charges of possessing drug paraphernalia and burglary tools, such as masks, gloves, etc.

According to police, numerous items were recovered from inside the vehicle from other burglaries as well. Descriptions of the people arrested matched many of the surveillance videos that were submitted by private residents with security camera footage, police said.

“Stolen items found and confiscated in the car(s) after the arrests are being matched with the items reported stolen out of Roseland,” Mayor James Spango said in a statement released to the public following the arrests. “This is an active investigation and more charges are likely to come for all suspects.”

Despite the recent arrests, the West Essex Task Force will continue to maintain an enhanced police presence.

In the meantime, residents are urged to remain vigilant and cautious; to report any suspicious activity or surveillance footage directly to their local police department; and to remove any and all personal items, including key fobs, from their vehicles.

“I want to urge residents to please make it a nightly routine to secure their vehicles and secure their key fobs,” said Marshuetz. “Please help us deter theft by properly securing every vehicle on your property every night.”

Detectives are currently working to identify the owners of all property that was recovered.