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Morris County law enforcement reflects on auto theft progress, trend of home burglaries

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll, Chief of Detectives Robert McNally, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, and Morris Plains Police Chief and Morris County Police Chief’s Association President Michael Koroski remind residents to always secure their homes and vehicles.

Coordinated law enforcement efforts have shown great promise, as auto theft in Morris County decreased 27.8% countywide last year compared to the year before, and continued vigilance by our citizens will reduce theft opportunities presented by unsecured homes and vehicles. This stands in contrast to New Jersey statistics, which demonstrate an increase in the number of stolen vehicles statewide.

The decrease is due in part to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Intelligence Unit, Morris County Sheriff’s Trends and Analysis Team (MCSTAT), Morris County Auto Theft Task Force, and our municipal departments remaining focused on combating the trend of organized thieves stealing unlocked vehicles or key fobs in unsecured homes.

Some municipal departments dedicate officers on a voluntary basis to the Auto Theft Task Force. These agencies work collaboratively with the New Jersey State Police Auto Theft Task Force to target organized criminal auto theft activity.

Motor Vehicle Thefts Morris County New Jersey
2020 269 11,785
2021 240 14,416
2022 273 15,816
2023 197 16,605

However, it is important to note that criminals are entering unlocked cars or homes or breaking into residences in search of key fobs and other valuables, escalating the danger of confrontation with homeowners.

These criminal enterprises operate in a coordinated fashion utilizing “drop cars,” where multiple members are deployed in a neighborhood at once. They canvas for unlocked doors and target luxury brand models. Over the past year, Morris County has seen thieves strike most frequently on weekdays, often during the overnight hours. Hotspot municipalities in the county include Parsippany, Morris Township, Montville, Morristown, Mountain Lakes, and Randolph.

Residents are asked to be mindful when safeguarding their homes and vehicles:

  • Ensure all doors, including interior garage doors, and windows are locked.
  • Do not leave key fobs in cars, especially since they can be used to access homes.
  • Remove delivered packages from porches and in front of your residence quickly.
  • Park luxury cars in the garage whenever possible, even during the day.
  • Lock vehicles when not in use.
  • Keep the exterior of your residence well-lit.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Steering wheel security devices are recommended.
  • Review home surveillance recordings regularly and share footage of suspicious activity with local law enforcement.

In recent years, leaders in Morris County law enforcement have supported proposed federal and state legislation that would assist law enforcement in combatting vehicle theft.

“Auto theft is a statewide problem we are approaching with a regional strategy in Morris County through coordination, intelligence-sharing, technology, and public awareness. Law enforcement is seeing networks operating in Morris County that employ the use of juveniles to enter cars and homes, knowing criminal penalties are less strict than those for adult defendants. Our goal is to break the chain of conduct being exhibited by juvenile offenders, leading them away from the path of becoming career criminals as adults. At the same time, the MCPO aims to prosecute adult defendants to the fullest extent possible, recognizing that members of these networks pose a risk of reoffence. One such strategy is to petition the court to grant pretrial detention, when appropriate under the Bail Reform Law, which could disrupt their operation. Our federal law enforcement partners have also conveyed that they are targeting the financial incentives that are the driving force behind these vehicle thefts,” Carroll said.

“I recognize that discovering an intruder in your home is a frightening situation. I ask for the sake of your safety, residents are asked not to confront suspected home intruders. Instead, contact your local police immediately,” Carroll said.

“We can see our efforts are working due to partnerships between our residents and the police.  Educating our citizens, proactive diligent police patrols, and good intelligence-driven detective work is making a difference, but there is still more to be done. Criminals are becoming more aggressive and dangerous.  The safety of our residents is of paramount importance. The Morris County Sheriff’s Office will continue to take care of our duties and responsibilities all while continuing to collaborate with our law enforcement partners,” Gannon said.

“The decrease in auto thefts in Morris County is a testament to the work of our municipal law enforcement patrol officers and detectives. The importance of the partnerships in Morris County, led by Prosecutor Carroll, Sheriff Gannon and the membership of the Morris County Chiefs Association cannot be understated. Residents can count themselves among that partnership by locking their vehicles and homes and reporting suspicious activity, without delay, to 911,” Koroski said.

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Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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