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Police Ask Monty Folks to Lock Doors

By Barbara A. Preston l August 31, 2021


Montgomery and Rocky Hill residents fortunately live in a safe community. This does not suspend the importance of common sense when it comes to protecting property and our fellow citizens — according to Montgomery Township Administrator Donato Nieman.

Image from an attempted crime in Montgomery Township.

Car thieves and burglars in Montgomery are targeting unlocked homes and vehicles in private driveways throughout town.

“Leaving a door unlocked is an invitation for theft.” — Donato Nieman.

This is especially so when laptops, cash, and credit cards are left inside a vehicle, Nieman says.


Perpetrators of these thefts walk through neighborhoods looking for vehicles that can be easily stolen. They pull on door handles until they find cars whose doors are unlocked and then they steal them.

Sometimes, they check the locks on homes in the hope they will find car keys in an unlocked front hallway, as is shown in the video.

"Our police department works tirelessly to solve these thefts and often finds the vehicles have been stolen by professional thieves from out-of-town," Nieman says. "Your vehicle is not secure simply because you live in a safe suburban municipality."


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Recent thefts

Someone stole a 2013 silver Range Rover from a River Road (County Route 533) driveway during the overnight hours between August 19 and 20. The owner had left the keys in the car, and the doors unlocked.


One Stolen Car & Multiple Burglaries

Multiple motor vehicle burglaries and a stolen 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee occurred all on one day—Friday, August 6. The crimes took place just north of Sunset Road —on Brandywine Road, Tall Cedar Court, Concord Lane, Sleepy Hollow Lane, and Fox Chase Lane between 2:30 am and 5:30 am.

One occurred across town on Whispering Lane, over by the Mattawang Golf Club.

Police said all of the vehicles were unlocked. The stolen items included an EZ Pass, cash, a laptop, and Beats headphones. Police advised all of these thefts could have been prevented if residents took basic crime prevention measures, including locking parked cars, removing valuables from the vehicles, and reporting suspicious persons at the time they are observed.


Over the last two years, Montgomery police investigated a total of at least 14 stolen motor vehicles.


Thirteen of the vehicles stolen were parked overnight in resident driveways with the doors unlocked and the keys left inside the vehicle. In one of these thefts, the theft of a second vehicle was interrupted when the actor who entered the home was encountered by the homeowner inside of the residence and fled. It is believed the suspect had entered the residence to search for keys to the second vehicle.


On May 3, police responded to the Woods Edge development for a reported suspicious incident. A homeowner was asleep in the residence and alerted by a phone call from her husband who was not home at the time. He had received a surveillance camera notification that motion was detected in the front of the residence and contacted police. Police reviewed the homeowner’s surveillance footage which shows a sedan entering Rutgers Lane from Cherry Valley Road at 0317 am and stopping in front of the residence. A Porsche and Maserati were parked in the driveway.


Two actors were seen exiting the vehicle, one actor walks up the driveway and attempts to open the doors of the vehicles while the other walks up to the front door of the residence and attempts to gain entry with negative results. Camera footage shows both actors returning to their vehicle and leaving.


“Although disturbing to see, the Rutgers Lane incident should been seen as a success,” said Montgomery Township Police Director Captain James Gill. “The actors were thwarted by the vehicles and the residence being locked and/or secured. These homeowners are to be commended for routinely locking their home and cars at night. That’s what everyone needs to do.”


In an effort to prevent future incidents, MTPD remind residents to take simple safety precautions to protect themselves and vehicles.


Close and lock all windows and doors when you park your vehicle.

Take your key; don’t leave it in your vehicle.

Use driveway lighting, and park in a garage if possible.

Never leave valuables in your vehicle – especially in sight.

Secure all residential doors and windows daily.


“Residents should realize that the perpetrators of these thefts are organized, professional, and traveling distances to target Montgomery,” said Detective Sergeant Brian Hofacker who leads these investigations. “By routinely locking our homes and cars, we can send a message to these burglary teams that Montgomery Township is not an easy target.”


The vehicle thefts have occurred throughout the township, including postal addresses of Belle Mead, Skillman, and Princeton. The recovered vehicles have been found in East Orange, Newark, Franklin Township, and as far away as Georgia.


Police are asking that if you have any information that could assist MTPD or captured any suspicious activity or persons on security cameras to contact Detective Sergeant Brian Hofacker at 908.533.9192 or at bhofacker@police.montgomery.nj.us.

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