Auto Thieves Hit Ocean Metropolis; Police Urge Homeowners to Lock Vehicles

Police Det. Lt. Steve Sullivan holds photographs of one of many high-end Mercedes G Wagons stolen this week in Ocean Metropolis.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

An auto theft ring that has been focusing on luxurious automobiles and SUVs on the Jersey Shore hit Ocean Metropolis this week, prompting police to induce householders to lock their autos at evening and take away the important thing fobs.

“I implore people to lock their cars and take the key fobs with them, because if they don’t, it puts the safety of our residents and officers at risk. It’s just a simple decision,” Ocean Metropolis Police Chief Jay Prettyman mentioned in an interview.

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Prettyman and Det. Lt. Steve Sullivan mentioned Ocean Metropolis turned the most recent shore neighborhood focused by a automotive theft ring primarily based in North Jersey when three high-end autos have been stolen on Wednesday, Sept. 21, within the early morning hours.

“It’s an epidemic in New Jersey this year,” Prettyman mentioned of the surge within the variety of stolen automobiles.

Sullivan, who’s main the investigation, defined that Ocean Metropolis, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Atlantic Metropolis, Margate and Ventnor are among the many shore communities which were hit by auto theft rings.

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“They’re really targeting higher-end motor vehicles in affluent areas,” he mentioned.

Because the starting of the yr, 10 automobiles have been stolen in Ocean Metropolis. Sullivan mentioned he can hyperlink no less than seven of these thefts to an auto theft ring working out of Newark.

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Police are asking for the general public’s assist in catching the thieves who stole three luxurious autos within the early morning hours Wednesday on Mariana Lane and Spruce Highway in Ocean Metropolis’s upscale Riviera neighborhood.

Sullivan mentioned police are looking for house surveillance video from Mariana Lane, Spruce Highway and Glenwood Drive between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and a couple of a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

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In every case, the thieves stole automobiles that have been parked within the driveway, have been unlocked, and nonetheless had the keys inside, Sullivan identified.

Ocean Metropolis Police Chief Jay Prettyman desires house owners to lock their automobiles and take the important thing fobs to assist forestall auto theft.

One home-owner on Mariana Lane known as police shortly earlier than 2 a.m. Wednesday when he noticed some folks wearing darkish clothes and carrying masks breaking into his two 2021 Mercedes G Wagons parked within the driveway.

The thieves then took off in each Mercedes SUVs and headed out of city. Police noticed one Mercedes and gave chase because it was rushing over the Route 52 Causeway at greater than 100 mph towards Somers Level.

A choice was made by police to again off pursuing the stolen Mercedes in a high-speed chase as a result of the scenario turned too harmful. At one level, a Somers Level police automotive was almost hit by the automotive thieves, Prettyman mentioned.

The thieves have been in a position to get away. One of many stolen Mercedes G Wagons has not but been recovered. One other one was discovered after it ran out of fuel on the Backyard State Parkway in Egg Harbor Township, Sullivan mentioned.

“We’re still looking for the suspects,” he mentioned.

In the meantime, the third automotive stolen within the early morning hours Wednesday was a 2023 Audi S5. The Audi was stolen from a house on Spruce Highway, simply across the nook from the place the 2 Mercedes G Wagons have been taken on Mariana Lane.

The Audi has not but been recovered. The proprietor didn’t report it stolen to police till later that morning. The automotive was unlocked and the keys have been left inside, Sullivan mentioned.

“I would ask people to be diligent enough to take their keys out of their cars. I would also urge them not to place their keys in a visible site at the main entry of their homes,” Sullivan mentioned, noting that some automotive thieves will break into homes to steal automotive keys.

Police are additionally investigating some automotive burglaries that occurred this week on Glenwood Drive that could be associated to the auto theft ring. A Cadillac Escalade and a Mercedes SUV have been damaged into on the 200 block of Glenwood Drive, near the place the Mercedes G Wagons and Audi have been stolen, Sullivan mentioned.

Det. Lt. Steve Sullivan, who’s heading the investigation, appears to be like over police reviews in regards to the stolen automobiles.

An alarming rise in auto theft throughout the state prompted New Jersey Performing Lawyer Normal Matthew Platkin to kind an auto theft ring process power final March.

In 2021, 14,320 autos have been reported stolen in New Jersey, representing a 22 p.c enhance in comparison with 2020, in keeping with State Police information reported by NJ.com.

Authorities mentioned luxurious autos stolen in New Jersey usually are shipped abroad by auto theft rings by means of the Port of Newark or are utilized by gangs in drive-by shootings.

In August, state Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex, and state Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, launched new laws that may stiffen the penalties for automotive theft and targets the ringleaders in an effort to crack down on auto theft rings.

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