Reports of car thefts in New Jersey have been up for the past two years, and the thieves are seemingly becoming more brazen — with one woman recently waking up to find one of the burglars in her bedroom.
Surveillance video, obtained by NBC New York from police, shows three car thieves rummaging through drawers in the Toms River home. Authorities believe the masked men were involved in back-to-back burglaries that have rattled people in the town.
“It’s scary. I live in this neighborhood. I have small kids. We’re up at the same time that burglars were in someone else’s house,” said Karin Sage, who lives in the same neighborhood.
It was early Tuesday morning when the woman awoke to find the intruder in the bedroom she shares with her husband.
“My wife told me that when she woke up she saw a guy trying to grab something, over my head trying to grab something,” the husband, who did not wish to be identified, told News 4 over the phone. “There was eye contact and this guy started running away.”
The husband said an expensive watch was stolen but nothing else before the burglars ran out. A Maserati believed to be linked to the crimes was seen driving off.
The husband said he and his family were “a little bit shaken up…it takes a lot for someone to go into someone else’s bedroom while they’re sleeping.”
New Jersey state legislators have turned their attention to a surge of car thefts across the state, where alleged gang members are recruiting teens to steal cars, Brian Thompson reports.
About an hour earlier, at a house less than two miles away, burglars took four sets of keys and stole the homeowner’s high-end BMW worth well over $100,000. No one was home in that incident.
Investigators believe in each case, the thieves got in through unlocked first-floor windows.
“There’s been no forced entry. It’s been a crime of opportunity,” said Toms River Police Lt. Scott Moeller.
Following a rash of car thefts over the summer, police believe a lot of people got the message and have been locking their vehicles and bringing their keys and fobs inside. As a result, they say, it appears the criminals are stepping up their game.
“They’re making so much money from a profit from stealing these cars,” said Moeller. “They’re getting more brazen and they’re actually going into people’s residences.”
Police in New Jersey will now be allowed to chase after cars believed to have been stolen, in an effort to crackdown on car thefts that have been spiking recently. NBC New York’s Pat Battle reports.
Neighbors meanwhile are becoming more vigilant as car thieves appear to be working harder to steal from their targets.
“Making sure my windows are locked. Doors are locked. Cars are locked. Keeping car keys with me when I’m sleeping instead of out in the open,” said Sage.