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Drivers reminded not to leave cars running attended

Motor vehicle thefts are on the rise as thieves target cars left running unattended or parked with keys left inside. 

Eight vehicles were reported stolen from October 2020 to Feb. 1: five were running unattended and two were unlocked with keys left inside. In one instance, the key was obtained by other means. 

The Newark Police Department is sharing information on how these crimes occur, along with ways motorists can help reduce thefts and protect their property.

Reports indicate suspects are alone or with another person as they search the area for cars left running unattended at gas stations, convenience stores or parking lots. When they observe an unattended vehicle running or see the driver go into a store, the suspects walk over, enter the car and drive away. The act of stealing takes only a few seconds. 

Another method involves suspects trying the handles of parked vehicles in parking lots and residential areas. Suspects enter the unlocked cars, and check for keys left in the ignition or laying on seats. These incidents typically occur during overnight hours. An accomplice drives slowly near the suspects to allow an easy getaway should they be discovered.

NPD recommends drivers be aware of their surroundings, especially in parking lots, convenience stores and gas stations. They need to close and lock all windows and doors when they park, even in their driveway. Motorists can double-click the lock button on the key fob to receive a confirmation beep/chirp or pull on the door handle to verify it is locked. 

Other safety measures include parking in well-lit areas and activating exterior lights at home. Cars should not be left running, even for a short duration of time. This is illegal in New York state. 

Keys, key fobs, valet keys or anything considered valuable should not be left in the car. This includes keys to a secondary vehicle. 

Vehicles with keyless ignition systems can be driven for extended periods of time even if the key fob is not inside the car. Drivers should make sure their car is off when leaving it unattended.

Finally, motorists should keep information such as the make, model, model year, license plate and vehicle identification number easily accessible in the event the car is stolen. 

This past January, NPD responded to or initiated 729 events and completed 87 incident reports. Officers made 12 felony arrests, as well as 15 at the misdemeanor level and one violation. The department investigated 24 car crashes, conducted 61 traffic stops and issued 34 uniform traffic tickets. 

In 2020, NPD responded to or initiated 9,960 events and completed 1,296 incident reports. Officers made 421 arrests: 102 felonies, 308 misdemeanors and 11 violations. The department investigated 251 car crashes, conducted 751 traffic stops and issued 448 traffic tickets.

Stock photo.