NEWARK, NJ — Newark's Public Safety Director said he believes criminal incidents in Newark can be reduced if people living in the suburbs would be more diligent in locking their vehicles and taking the key fobs with them after parking.

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

In 2019, over 300 cars stolen from cities in various counties—ranging from Bergen, Essex, Union and Hudson to Passaic, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth and Somerset—were used in violent crimes in Newark.

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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.

“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.

“We’re asking people in our suburbs to be more diligent about locking their cars,” Ambrose said.

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.