Vehicle thefts spike in NJ — how police are responding
The number of vehicle thefts in New Jersey jumped 22% in 2021 compared to the year prior. And already in 2022, motor vehicle thefts are up 31% compared to the same period last year.
In response, New Jersey officials have expanded the state's Auto Theft Task Force by adding more police departments, detectives, and prosecutors, Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan announced on Thursday. In addition, Platkin is making available up to $125,000 in federal funds to bolster the task force's resources and capabilities.
Last year alone, there were 14,320 vehicles reported stolen in the Garden State. Officials say there's a strong connection between cases involving stolen property and shootings. Of the 3,075 individuals arrested in 2021 for a charge of receiving stolen property, 285 were arrested with a firearm, officials said.
Car thefts are happening all over New Jersey, from the suburbs to the larger cities, officials said. In January 2022 alone, several municipalities — including Monroe, Edison, Oceanport, and Hamilton (Mercer County) — reported motor vehicle thefts that were followed up by burglaries of victims' residences.
The majority of these crimes can be prevented with common sense. According to the State Police, most auto thefts involve vehicles that were left running or had the key fob inside.
Tips to prevent vehicle theft, from the Attorney General's Office:
- Never leave your keys or fob in your vehicle.
- Do not leave your vehicle running while unattended.
- Park your car in well-lit areas.
- Ensure all windows are closed.
- Hide your valuables.
- Makes sure all doors are locked.