A Palisades Park owner got thrown from his car as he tried to stop a trio of thieves in his driveway, authorities said.
The Glen Avenue resident saw something going on in his driveway and ran out to find the thieves in his car, said Capt. Anthony Muccio, the department’s officer in charge.
He hung on to the vehicle to try and stop them but fell off as they sped away, Muccio said.
The resident, who’d sustained some scrapes and bruises, flagged down another motorist and together they chased the vehicle to dead-ended Fifth Street.
The thieves tried pulling onto a grass median but hit a parked car and got stuck on a rock, Muccio said.
So they got out and ran.
Leonia police caught one of them – a 16-year-old boy – near the Plaza West shopping center in Fort Lee, Muccio said.
Palisades Park police signed a delinquency complaint charging the boy with aggravated assault, theft and motor vehicle burglary, he said.
The other two apparently fled in another vehicle later reported stolen out of Leonia. They eluded police in Irvington, then bailed out of the car, which police there recovered, Muccio said.
Muccio, who thanked Leonia and Fort Lee police for their assistance, said his department fielded reports of four other vehicles that were rummaged through that night.
Police throughout Bergen and Passaic counties have constantly urged citizens to lock their cars, SUVs and trucks and take their key fobs.
Many don't listen, however.
The thieves mostly come from Newark and the Oranges, although some are from Hudson County and the Bronx.
They prowl North Jersey neighborhoods overnight, when most owners are sleeping.
The thieves know what to look for. Some vehicles won't lock if the fob is still in them. Others have side mirrors that fold when the car is locked.
Many simply test door handles. If a vehicle is locked, they keep moving. If not, they get to work.
Surveillance cameras aren't much of a deterrent. Many thieves wear hoodies or hide their faces in other ways -- with COVID face masks, for instance. Most cameras don't have high-enough resolution to capture accurate facial features from a distance, especially in low light.
Figuring the insurance will cover it doesn't take into account how that actually will affect the owner's rates -- especially when his or her carrier discovers the fob was left in an unlocked vehicle.
Equally mistaken is the idea that locks won't make a difference. They do, police say.
Thieves ordinarily don't need to work more than a single block before finding an available ride without having to force their way in. Then you or your neighbor's wheels are gone.
This video shows how quickly it's done:
Muccio asked owners to think twice whenever they get out of their vehicles. Have you made it a target or a deterrent?
"Lock the vehicle’s doors whenever it's unattended, no matter where or for how long," the captain said, "and never leave a running vehicle unattended."
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