Police once again pleaded with owners to lock their vehicles -- and not leave their keys or fobs behind -- after a wild noontime car chase Sunday that criss-crossed Bergen County and ended with two in custody.
"I really don't want anyone hurt or killed when we are responding to stolen vehicles," said Ridgewood Police Chief Jacqueline Luthcke. "Anyone on the road or in a home, are at risk during foot or vehicle pursuits."
Ridgewood police who were tracking a stolen Land Rover's GPS notified Hackensack police around noon, city police Lt. James Smith said.
A patrol officer spotted the vehicle at the north end of Main Street near Romaine Court and tried to pull it over, Smith said, but the driver kept going.
Teaneck police picked up the pursuit on eastbound Route 4 before New Milford police joined in, Smith said.
The driver then doubled back through Hackensack and Maywood into Paramus, where police captured the two suspects on Oradell Avenue, the lieutenant said.
There was a minor crash along the way after the pursuit re-entered Hackensack on River Street, although the other vehicle's driver didn't realize there'd been any damage, he said.
Ridgewood, like many other towns in North Jersey, has been plagued by auto thefts and burglaries.
Besides the Range Rover -- taken from a North Pleasant Avenue home -- both an Audi (Wall Street) and a Mercedes (Alpine) were stolen in a span of 24 hours or so, said Luthcke, the Ridgewood police chief.
"Several other vehicles were entered and items were stolen," Luthcke said.
The thieves took off when police arrived, she said.
Like her fellow chiefs in other towns, Luthcke asked owners to lock their homes and vehicles and to remove all valuables -- especially keys or key fobs.
Thieves "would move to other areas if they were unable to locate unlocked vehicles or find anything of value," she said.
Anyone who sees any suspicious people or cars in his or her neighborhood is urged to contact local police immediately.
Police everywhere -- not just in Ridgewood -- have gone from frustrated to angry that more and more motorists are basically inviting thieves to steal their vehicles.
YOU CAN SEE how quickly car thieves descend on a Bergen County neighborhood and take off with residents' vehicles in this video:
As the video shows, car thieves today simply shop, going from vehicle to vehicle testing door handles.
They ordinarily don't need to work more than a single block before finding an available ride. Then you or your neighbor's wheels are gone.
Anyone who believes that moving to a particular town better-protects them against vehicle thieves is a potential target.
The thieves actually prefer nicer neighborhoods specifically because there are trees, fences and other dividers between homes, fewer people are out and around -- and higher-end vehicles will be available.
As statistics and anecdotal evidence show, vehicle after vehicle are stolen from more affluent towns.
Police say drivers elsewhere apparently have the good sense to lock their cars, SUV, trucks and other means of transportation without leaving the keys or fobs inside.
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