As vehicle thefts increase in Atlantic County, county and local law enforcement here are echoing warnings from Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin about a serious spike in motor vehicle thefts across the state.
"We need residents and visitors alike to be diligent when securing their vehicles, removing valuables and practicing all safety precautions in order to assist law enforcement in stopping vehicle thefts in Atlantic County.
All too often in Atlantic County, law enforcement sees stolen vehicles used in the commission of other crimes by offenders,".
According to the NJSP Real Time Crime Center – South (RTCCS), there were 95 reported thefts of motor vehicles from January 1, 2022, to March 8, 2022, in Atlantic County.
For the same time frame in 2021, there were 54 thefts of motor vehicles in Atlantic County.
In all of 2021, there were 425 motor vehicle thefts in Atlantic County.
Atlantic County Chief of County Investigators Bruce DeShields says he has a message for motorists regarding the security of their vehicles:
"I would like everyone to exercise caution. Do not leave your garage door opener, car fob, or keys in your vehicle," Chief DeShields said.
"And never, under any circumstances, leave your car unattended and running to go inside a store or restaurant or any other stop."
Chief DeShields added that car owners have a false sense of security while their key fob is in their possession if they exit their vehicle while it is running.
According to county officials, in 2021, there were a total of 14,320 vehicles reported stolen in New Jersey, a 22 percent increase in overall thefts compared to the year before.
"Sure, you didn't leave the keys in the car, but your vehicle is running, could still be stolen, and a thief will drive it until they are finished, shut it off and then abandon it," Chief DeShields said.
"Please safeguard your vehicles. Help us help you, residents and visitors of Atlantic County."
According to the State Police, the vast majority of auto thefts involve vehicles stolen when the key fob is left in the vehicle, or the vehicle is left running.
These incidents are commonly referred to as "crimes of opportunity." Thieves may commit several vehicle burglaries before finding a vehicle with a key fob to steal.
According to officials, criminals use simple techniques— shared among car thieves via social media or by word of mouth—to steal vehicles and disable factory navigation systems.
In addition, an NJ State Police analysis reveals a strong nexus between cases involving receiving stolen property—including stolen vehicles—and shootings.
Last year the State Police reported 3,075 arrests involving receiving stolen property; most auto theft cases in New Jersey are charged as receiving stolen property.
Of those arrested for receiving stolen property, 211 were involved in 377 shootings, and 285 were arrested with a firearm.
Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin offered the following tips to prevent vehicle theft:
- Never leave your keys or key 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
- Make sure all doors are locked