WAYNE, NJ – Overnight on Tuesday, November 17, twenty-two cars were burglarized in various neighborhoods in Wayne.  The method of burglary was simple, pull on car door handles and take valuables from the cars left unlocked.

Mayor Chris Vergano made a public service announcement regarding this during Wednesday night’s Wayne Town Council meeting, though at the time, he was only aware of sixteen burglaries. 

The calls from residents reporting the crimes kept coming all day.

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Tuesday night was one of the coldest nights in some time, but the weather was ideal for the thieves.  They were willing to brave the cold, while residents preferred staying indoors where it was warm.

“The crimes occurred in residential neighborhoods off of Ratzer Road and Black Oak Ridge Road, in relative proximity to Route 23,” said Wayne Police Detective Captain, Dan Daly. 

Vergano said some incidents occurred near Theunis Dey Elementary School as well as in Packanack Lake.

Wayne police acquired surveillance video during their investigation. It showed “multiple suspects on foot,” said Daly. It is believed that the suspects arrived in a dark colored Audi Sedan.

Daly is asking that anyone with information call the Wayne Detective Bureau at 973-633-3530.

“This is a nice community that we live in,” said Vergano. “It might be 25 square miles; we might have 55,000 people, but others are watching us. They got into [22] cars very easily and they come in the middle of the night. They're not afraid, so the only way we can all work together on this is lock your car.”

That’s the simple message because much worse could’ve happened.

According to the Mayor, an incident occurred in Bergen County recently, where an individual entered a house by using the garage door opener accessed through an unlocked car.  The person “went into the house and accosted [the homeowner], who was laying in their bed, with a gun that they found sitting in the room,” said the Mayor. “So, it's almost like you can't make this stuff up.”

Wayne Police Chief Jack McNiff gave TAPinto an exclusive statement.

“These motor vehicle burglaries are certainly not isolated to Wayne Township.  Unfortunately, it's a serious problem that has been pervading many North Jersey communities for some time.  These are crimes of opportunity.  If your vehicle doors are locked, the suspect(s) typically move on to another car, or to another neighborhood. 

“I am urging the citizens of Wayne to help us.  Do not leave valuables in unsecured vehicles and never, ever leave your key fob inside.  This has led to several motor vehicle thefts, with these stolen cars then being used to commit more serious crimes and/or engaging in dangerous pursuits.  

The Wayne Police Department has made several arrests in the past year, yet the problem continues.  That is because the opportunity still exists.  

We need our residents to remain vigilant in two ways:  #1 Please report any suspicious activity in your neighborhood to WPD as soon as possible.  #2 As Mr. Hooper suggested in the movie Jaws, we also need to cut off the sharks' food supply.  We do this by consistently removing our key fobs and locking our car doors, and by reminding our neighbors, family, and friends to do likewise.

Expect a greater police presence in your neighborhoods, but we cannot do this alone.  We need the help of our amazing residents!”