WESTFIELD, NJ — A burglar crept into a home on Bennett Place through an unlocked mudroom door early Thursday morning, grabbed car keys from a purse there and then stole a vehicle in what is the latest in a series of similar crimes, police said.

In a Nixle message, police said an unlocked car on Golf Edge was also burglarized overnight. The incidents followed a report of an unknown person lurking in a backyard on Highland Avenue earlier in the evening.

Police Chief Christopher Battiloro said that a resident in the 800 block of Highland Avenue reported someone in his backyard at 9:40 p.m. walking toward the entrance of his driveway.

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The home’s back door was open when police arrived, Battiloro said.

“The officers searched both the interior and exterior of the residence, as well as the surrounding area,” he said.

Police did not find signs of forced entry to the door and there was no indication that anyone had entered the home, Battiloro said.

Officers searched the area but did not locate the person, he said.

In the alert, Westfield Police said that similar crimes have been reported in nearby Mountainside and Berkeley Heights.

In a Facebook post Thursday, Berkeley Heights Police posted video of a person pushing up an unlocked window and entering a home on Lee Lane around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The suspect took a key fob from a purse in the home and then made off with a BMW X5 parked in the driveway, police said.

“The modus operandi is similar to recent incidents in other communities in which suspects have entered homes seeking key fobs,” police said. “Residents are encouraged to lock all doors and windows and report suspicious activity to police.”

Westfield Police had reported Tuesday that a burglar broke into a home in the 300 block of Hillside Avenue, took keys from inside the residence and stolen a vehicle.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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