A safe stolen from a Mahwah home by a smooth talker and at least one accomplice was recovered – empty -- in Central Jersey, said police who are investigating the diversionary theft.
Police asked residents along or near Darlington Avenue who may have been approached or noticed anything suspicious early Thursday evening to contact them.
The homeowner said he was doing yard work when the con man got out of an SUV that pulled into the driveway around 6 p.m., Police Chief James N. Batelli said.
The stranger was described as white, about 50 years old, 5-foot-9 and heavy-set, with dark hair and a mustache. He was wearing blue jeans, white sneakers and a white shirt, the homeowner said.
The bandit began talking about siding as he walked the victim into the backyard – ostensibly to look at that part of the house.
At the same time, the homeowner said, the stranger spoke briefly with someone on a walkie-talkie whom he referred to as “Joe.”
“At the time, the homeowner thought nothing of it,” Batelli said. “After they returned to the front yard, the suspect said he wanted to get a business card to leave him.”
He got into the white SUV – believed to be a Toyota or Lexus – and drove off, the chief said.
“A short while later the homeowner noticed a safe missing from inside his residence,” Batelli said.
The thieves could have hopped onto Route 287 or 17 and headed south.
"The safe was located in East Windsor and is being processed for fingerprints," the chief said.
Meanwhile, detectives were following up on several leads.
Anyone who might have seen the vehicle or had a stranger come to their door Thursday night is asked to contact Detective Michael Grassi at (201) 529-1000 ext. 216 .
Batelli also urged citizens to remain vigilant for similar diversion burglaries, in which one member of a team keeps you busy while at least one other ransacks your home.
Just about every municipality requires anyone going door-to-door offering goods or services to obtain a solicitor’s permit – with their photo – that they must display at all times.
If anyone comes to your door without displayed identification – or simply makes you hinky – don’t engage them. Get to a safe place (inside your home, preferably, or out in the open where people can see you) and call police immediately.
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