SPARTA, NJ – Police Chief Neil Spidaletto is cautioning residents that, despite and maybe because of the current state of emergency, scammers have been active. 

While the scams are not new, the scammers, “seem to be even more bold now,” Spidaletto said.

They are calling victims, often posing as a grandchild, saying they need money for bail, having been arrested for a DWI or other offense.  Often the scam call is preceded by a call where the scammer is fishing for information about the grandchildren. They ask for money to be sent via Western Union or ask the victim to purchase a gift cards to get them the cash.

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The more dangerous situation, Spidaletto said, is that the scammers are actually coming to the victims’ house to pick up the money.

Spidaletto said any time a resident suspects they have been contacted by a scammer or have become a victim, it should be reported.  There is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed, he said.

Another familiar crime has returned to Sparta.  The car theft ring, “The Famous Boyz” are suspected in a recent car theft.  Typically three or four gang members drive from Newark to Sparta in a stolen car where they hunt for high-end cars that are unlocked with the key fob inside, Spidaletto said.

“They know if some of the high-end cars like Mercedes and Range Rovers are locked because the mirrors fold in,” Spidaletto said.  When they get into a neighborhood, the gang members get out and check the door handles looking for a new ride home.

They typically drive the car back to Newark.  From there they may let the car sit for a while to see if it has an active tracking device.  If not they will either take the car to “the docks” to be loaded into a shipping container to go overseas, or use them to commit other crimes.

“Some car owners have gotten their cars back with bullet holes,” Spidaletto said.

The Famous Boyz in Newark are "underlings of the Bloods" urban gang according to Spidaletto.  They act recklessly and are frequently heavily armed. Spidaletto said when they are spotted by police they often drive at very high speeds, even turning off headlights, "they have no regard for others."

“The last thing we want residents to do is to confront these people,” the chief said.  “If you hear or see someone acting suspiciously, especially in the late night or early morning hours, you should call the police.”

Better yet, lock the car and take the key inside the house.