FLEMINGTON - For months Central Jersey law enforcement authorities have been warning residents about a rise in vehicle thefts and thefts from motor vehicles.
Yet, despite all the warnings, residents are failing to take simple, common sense steps to prevent these crimes that continue to plague neighborhoods.
Hunterdon County Sheriff Fred W. Brown and Hunterdon County Prosecutor Renee Robeson have joined the chorus of telling residents what they can do to avoid being victims even in the quietest rural areas.
"There has been a significant rise in the number of stolen vehicles and vehicle break-ins, all over the state," Brown said. "The rise in thefts is of great concern to law enforcement offices and Prosecutor Robeson and I wanted to share this information with the Hunterdon County community to keep residents safe and remind everyone to stay vigilant."
Hunterdon has not been immune to the rise in vehicle thefts in New Jersey and the rest of the county.
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Brown shared some of the sobering facts:
• In 2021 there was a 22% increase in car thefts, and the numbers have continued to rise this year.
• Car theft is up 31 percent so far in 2022.
The sheriff and prosecutor advised residents to follow these measures:
• Don't leave your car running.
• Lock your car.
• An unlocked car is an invitation to car thieves.
• Take your keys or key fob with you even if you are parked in a garage.
• Don't leave valuables in your car.
• If possible, park in a garage or a well-lit place.
• Thieves troll the area looking for cars with mirrors turned out, which often indicates that the car is unlocked and the key may be in the vehicle.
• Stolen cars are often used in other crimes.
• If your car is stolen. report the theft to the police immediately.
"Prevention is truly the best protection," Robeson said. "By simply taking your key fob out of your car and keeping your car locked, you can safeguard your property and help to avoid further crimes from occurring in your community and around the state."
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The sheriff reminded residents that garage door openers can often lead to theft.
"Another tip is to avoid leaving your garage door opener in your car in a place where it can be seen by thieves, especially in an unlocked vehicle," Brown said.
Preventing crime means eliminating the opportunities to commit crime, the sheriff added.
"Something as simple as making sure your windows are completely closed can deter a potential thief from choosing your car," Brown added. "Avoiding the opportunity for someone to enter your car, or take your keys and then enter your home, will keep residents safe."
Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Prosecutor: NJ car thefts are spiking. How to avoid becoming a victim