Police warn public about potentially dire consequences of leaving vehicles unlocked

Police departments across New Jersey continue to remind residents to lock their cars and take their key fobs with them. It comes as more stolen cars are being used to commit violent crimes.

News 12 Staff

May 6, 2022, 2:23 AM

Updated 771 days ago

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Police departments across New Jersey continue to remind residents to lock their cars and take their key fobs with them. It comes as more stolen cars are being used to commit violent crimes.
The latest situation involved a car stolen out of Kearny used in a drive-by shooting in Newark. A 4-year-old, 7-year-old and an adult man were all injured in that shooting. Police say the car used in the drive-by was stolen after someone left their keys inside of the vehicle.
Police are now warning people that the simple act of leaving their key fob inside the car could lead to a tragedy.
Car thefts are up 37% in New Jersey this year, according to the state Office of the Attorney General. More than 14,300 cars were stolen last year, a record high.
Newark police have said they often see violence related to cars stolen outside their borders. State Attorney General Matthew Platkin has taken notice.
"These stolen vehicles are not always isolated incidents. They're increasingly linked to other crimes, including shootings,” Platkin said.
The attorney general has reversed the procedure so that police officers are once again allowed to pursue and chase down a suspect who may solely be wanted for car theft.
“There was really no deterrent since Jan. 1 from law enforcement or the courts for that matter,” says Rutherford Police Chief John Russo.
Russo says car thefts in his town are up 150%, compared to 2021. It may be cars stolen out of driveways or high-end cars left running along Park Avenue.
“In broad daylight, right here on Park Avenue,” Russo says. "We're seeing people jump in the cars to try and take them. If not successful, they go around the block and try to take another one."
Russo says he applauds Platkin for listening to law enforcement officials.
“He’s been very receptive since Day 1,” Russo says. "I think with the change that the attorney general put in place we will see some benefits."
In many cases, stolen cars are used in crimes or shipped overseas. Russo says he would also like to see the law changes so car thieves get prison time.


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