ROXBURY, NJ - Citing two vehicle thefts Sunday night in Succasunna, Roxbury police on Monday practically begged residents to not leave keys in the vehicles. It was a request echoed by police in Newark, a place where cars stolen from distant towns - including Roxbury - often appear at crime scenes.

On the heels of the Roxbury police request on social media which said, "Please DO NOT leave your keys in your vehicles overnight," Newark's public safety director said cars stolen from places like Roxbury become a problem for his officers.

“Cars being stolen from the suburbs and surrounding cities are being used in criminal incidents in Newark,” said Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose. “About one-third of them have been used in violent crimes. This has to stop. We have to stop it.”

Sign Up for Roxbury Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Lock the Doors and Take the Fobs

Ambrose asserted that crime in the city would be reduced if people living in the suburbs would be more diligent in locking vehicles and taking key fobs with them after parking.

In 2019, over 300 cars stolen from suburban towns including Roxbury were used in violent crimes in Newark, officials said. Already this year, Newark police recovered 120 vehicles stolen from other municipalities and 41 - or 34 percent - were involved in violent crimes, police said.

As a result, Ambrose is forming a Newark Police Division task force to identify patterns and build prosecutions against people suspected in multiple car thefts.

The Felony Auto Theft Investigative Unit is a 90-day pilot program that will gather information from other law enforcement agencies to track and monitor stolen cars and those arrested in car thefts.

“This is an investigative task force,” Ambrose said. “This is detective work, gathering intelligence and looking at the data to see where, when and why these car thefts occur, and how we can stop them,” he said.

A Plan to Partner

“I want to form partnerships with police directors and chiefs in cities where these vehicles have been stolen, since this is a shared problem, so that we can jointly investigate and reduce the number of stolen vehicles used in violent crimes," Ambrose said.

Luxury cars and SUVs, such as Range Rovers, were most targeted by thieves, he said, adding, “We’re asking people in our suburbs to be more diligent about locking their cars.” 

The keyless ignition seems to be a problem. There are many cases where key fobs are left in cars, and these criminals just open an unlocked door and they are gone.

“Failing to lock your car and to take the key fob with you might result in a worse crime down the line,” Ambrose said.