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Auto Theft in Mountain Lakes: A Disturbing Hotspot

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MOUNTAIN LAKES — Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll, Chief of Detectives Robert McNally, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, and Morris County Police Chiefs Association President Ross Johnson remind residents always to secure their vehicles.

Major hotspot municipalities in the county include Mountain Lakes. Popular vehicle thieves’ targets include BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, and Honda.

July is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. This coming month, it is expected to see a sharp increase, as has occurred over the past two years. July has been the most popular month of the year for auto thefts.

While law enforcement efforts to date have shown great promise, as auto theft is down 49.35% countywide compared to last year, continued cooperation by our citizens is vital to reducing theft opportunities when cars are left unsecured.

Residents/citizens are always reminded to lock their vehicles and residences and remove all fobs and valuables inside their cars, even if the vehicles are parked in the driveway or inside the garage.

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Intelligence Unit, Morris County Auto Theft Task Force, and Morris County Sheriff’s Trends and Analysis Team (MCSTAT) have remained focused on combating the trend of organized thieves stealing unlocked vehicles.

These criminal enterprises have capitalized on unsecured vehicles to steal many vehicles, targeting neighborhoods where they suspect vehicles are unlocked. Thieves often operate overnight and target luxury vehicles. These criminals have been known to steal other vehicles to commit violent crimes, including robberies.

Motor Vehicle Thefts Morris County New Jersey
2020 269 11,785
2021 240 14,416
2022 273 15,816
2023 (as of June) 78 7,029

Of the vehicles stolen in Morris County in 2023, 72% percent were left unlocked.

Morris County accounts for 1.1% of vehicle thefts statewide.

Recent criminal behavior has included utilizing unsecured vehicles to commit burglaries and home invasions, escalating the danger of confrontation with homeowners.

We also ask you to help us solve crimes by reporting any suspicious activity you view on your surveillance cameras. Even if you are not the victim of a crime, sharing information with law enforcement can potentially assist with solving other thefts. If you have access to any suspicious camera footage, please provide a copy of it to your local police department.

Morris County Law Enforcement is working collectively to disrupt these organized thieves.

The MCPO Intelligence Unit, Morris County Police Chiefs Association, and Morris County Sheriff’s Office maintain the Auto Theft Task Force. These agencies devote resources and staff to develop intelligence, target the individuals responsible for victimizing property owners in Morris County, and work collaboratively with the New Jersey State Police to target organized criminal auto theft activity.

Another such strategy is the purchasing and utilization of Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR), at key locations through Morris County and New Jersey, in a coordinated statewide network to disrupt crime. This technology is implemented through the guidelines set by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

Law enforcement is asking the public to do their part by taking preventative steps to secure their homes, garages, and motor vehicles. Together, law enforcement and residents can help prevent these crimes from occurring.

Morris County Prosecutor Carroll stated: “The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Intelligence Unit works with local law enforcement and is guided by intelligence to address this criminal trend. Many Morris County cars were stolen because the key fob was left inside. We implore residents not to allow criminals to take advantage of their forgetfulness – get into the routine of taking your fob with you when you park. Alarmingly, thieves have used garage door openers to access homes, potentially setting up a confrontation with residents.”

Sheriff Gannon said: “The Morris County Sheriff’s Office and our law enforcement partners set goals and objectives focused on safety. The safety of others and the safety of others’ personal property.  Both are affected when a car theft occurs.  Property is lost when a vehicle is stolen, and often, that vehicle is used to commit crimes against others.  The Morris County Sheriff’s Office and the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Trends and Analysis Team are working diligently to ensure everyone’s safety and that their property is secure.  Please do your part and be mindful of this crime trend.  Be vigilant in securing your vehicle properly and be sure to share any captured alarming or odd surveillance footage with the Morris County Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency.”

Morris County Police Chiefs Association President Johnson stated: “Would-be thieves have ways of determining which vehicles contain key fobs without needing to look inside. Organized groups target a neighborhood and steal multiple cars and valuables inside unsecured vehicles. Making your car inaccessible is the greatest deterrent.”

Other hotspot municipalities in the county include Parsippany, Morris Township, Montville, and Morristown.

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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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