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Area Spree: Car Thief Crashes Unlocked Car, Key Inside, Backing Out Of Unlocked Tenafly Garage

Responding Tenafly police officers found the 2005 Honda Civic with the engine running and the driver’s side door open partially wedged in some bushes in-between two neighboring properties.
Responding Tenafly police officers found the 2005 Honda Civic with the engine running and the driver’s side door open partially wedged in some bushes in-between two neighboring properties. Photo Credit: Googlemaps

A thief trying to back a Tenafly resident’s car out of a garage after finding it unlocked with the key inside overnight slammed into a row of bushes and left it there, police said.

Another car left unlocked in the same Depeyster Avenue garage – also not locked -- had valuables taken from inside around 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, Capt. Michael deMoncada said.

Responding officers found the 2005 Honda Civic with the engine running and the driver’s side door open partially wedged in some bushes in-between two neighboring properties, he said.

“It appears the [bandit] was able to start the car and back it out of the garage but was unable to navigate the driveway in reverse and crashed into the bushes, disabling the car,” deMoncada said.

“Another unlocked vehicle in the same open garage was burglarized, but no key was available for the suspect to steal that car,” he said.

Officers searched the neighborhood and found another unlocked vehicle in a driveway not far from there that was also burglarized but not stolen.

Later that same morning, a Hillside Avenue resident reported an unlocked vehicle ransacked but not stolen.

Surveillance video produced by a resident from around 3 a.m. showed two thieves in hoodies and gloves emerging from a light-colored SUV and running up an Engle Street driveway to test door handles of two parked vehicles.

They got back into the SUV and fled after realizing that both parked cars were locked.

Detectives were reviewing security camera footage from other area homes and asked residents to check theirs to see whether they could identify the getaway vehicle or the thieves.

Don't Become A Victim

Once again, deMoncada, like so many other ranking police officers throughout North Jersey, urged residents to not make their vehicles available.

The days of smashing windows and popping locks are over. Today’s thieves simply test door handles – moving on when they find a vehicle locked or moving in when they find those that aren’t.

And for some reason there are many that aren't locked -- a sizable number of them with the key or key fob left inside, bewildered authorities say.

“Car thieves will continue to come into our neighborhoods to target unlocked vehicles with keys left inside,” deMoncada said. “Please always remember to lock your doors and remove all valuables, keys, and fobs when you park your car at night.”

He also urged citizens to keep an eye out – and call police immediately if they see anything sketchy.

“Suspicious activity may include unfamiliar vehicles driving slowly in your neighborhood, stopping abruptly or parking improperly late at night,” he said. “Or you may see someone on your property, checking car handles of parked cars, or wearing inappropriate clothing (gloves or masks when its warm, hooded sweatshirts cinched around the face to hide one’s identity, dark clothing at night, etc.).

“Help us catch these criminals by providing as many details as you can (vehicle make, model, color, license plate, clothing description, etc.).”

Local police everywhere are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to investigate such reports.

They would “rather be called immediately and determine the suspicious incident was innocent," deMoncada said, "than be called hours after the fact and learn there were multiple victims of a crime in the area.”

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