Do affluent NJ residents care? Making it too easy for burglars, car thieves
For all the proposed legislation and local laws to toughen the penalties for car theft in New Jersey, it might all come down to one basic preventative measure: locking your car and home doors.
In four cases of attempted home burglaries in Toms River on Friday morning, two ended with luxury vehicles being stolen.
At least three thieves made several unsuccessful attempts to enter homes and vehicles in the Tallymawr Manor neighborhood off Whitesville Road (Route 527.
A homeowner on Brentwood Avenue woke up around 5 a.m. and watched on his Ring system of a masked man pushing open the front door around 2:35 a.m.
The intruder waved over two other men who all went inside.
Within seconds after find car keys in the home, the trio bolted toward the driveway where they stole a 2017 Range Rover Sport, Police Chief Mitch Little said.
Ten minutes earlier, anlocked 2022 Audi RS7 was stolen from a house in the same neighborhood on Benjamin Street, according to Little. The homeowner told police there was no sign of forced entry and nothing else had been stolen.
Local law and legislation combating car theft
New Jersey lawmakers and municipalities continue to strengthen penalties for car thefts.
In response to the more than 14,300 vehicle thefts reported through the first 11 months of 2022, after more than 14,000 in 2021, legislation introduced last month by Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, would keep certain offenders locked up pretrial.
"This is a decisive and targeted action to counter auto thefts and related crimes by allowing law enforcement to detain repeat offenders," Gopal said during a news conference in December with Monmouth County law enforcement. "Criminals are burglarizing houses for key fobs, stealing cars right out of people's driveways and using the vehicles to commit other crimes."
Marlboro's Township Council in December approved an ordinance proposed by Mayor Jonathan Hornick with penalties tougher than the state's. Violators would be fined $1,000 for attempted vehicle theft and $2,000 or 90 days in jail for every subsequent attempt. Failure to show up would result in an arrest warrant.
"We introduced a new ordinance on the municipal level because the current state sentencing guidelines and bail reform programs aren't enough to keep people who are attempting to steal cars in New Jersey in jail. So we are trying to give our police officers the tools necessary in order to take criminals off the street," Hornik told New Jersey 101.5.
The mayor said that other communities across the state have contacted him about the program.
But the first step to preventing car theft begins in homes, garages, driveways and parking lots is to lock vehicles and homes.
"We are reminding the public to check your home and vehicle doors regularly," Little said. "If you are a victim, please immediately notify authorities and do not attempt to engage the suspects. For your safety and the safety of others, DO NOT attempt to follow, chase or recover your vehicle."
Previous reporting by Dino Flammia was used in this report.