Rampant Luxury Car Theft in Northern New Jersey

It started with a random email from my friend Mike with a link to a local Wyckoff, New Jersey, newspaper. Someone’s BMW X6 M was stolen, right out of their driveway. It wouldn’t have raised my eyebrows if it was not for that specific high-end model. And the fact that it wasn’t recovered. And the fact that it was stolen right out of a driveway. And the fact that the “key” was in the car.

And then there were the other BMWs, Range Rovers, Mercedes, and Lexuses stolen in a similar fashion. Even a Ferrari F360. All of those cars were casually driven out of the driveways of their unsuspecting owners, some in the bright daylight. Other than one owner seeing his car driving away at the end of street, no one heard or saw anything. This may become a movie.

[Sources: Wycoff.patch.com and Ridgewood.patch.com]

I can see this happening; you live in an upscale town, super-suburban wooded area where nothing ever happens. For years you have left your cars open, bicycles in the driveway, French doors unlocked, garage doors open and nothing has ever happened. There are no “bad people walking around”, no one is actually walking around. Everyone just drives to get to anywhere, even a neighbor’s house. You pop-in, pop-out, five minute here, five minutes there. You leave everything open because you’re only five minutes. And those new smart key fobs are uncomfortable to keep in your pocket.

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In addition to the car theft, and probably unrelated, there were also many smash-and-grab car break-ins too. By smash-and-grab I mean open-the-unlocked-door-and-help-yourself-to-anything-you-want. Everything from GPS units to watches to shopping bags full of over-priced clothes got jacked. No suspects, no one saw or heard anything.

Newspaper reports indicate that the police departments working on this don’t have much to go on. They believe that the “thieves [are] using transmitting devices to detect computer chips inside remote key fobs”, mean they have way of knowing if the key is in the car without even approaching the vehicle.

Neighboring posh towns of Franklin Lakes (RHONJ!) and Saddle River, where car theft is as common as earthquakes, report similar problems. “Franklin Lakes police report that since mid-2011, eight unlocked vehicles with a value of $75,000 to $200,000 each have been stolen from driveways. In Saddle River, seven high-end unlocked vehicles have been stolen since November 2010.”

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The most surprising thing is that none of the vehicles have been recovered, which to me indicates professional work. Further proof of that is the fact that two Porsches and an Audi were stolen from more secure gated communities. Authorities agree, saying that “in some cases, stolen cars may be in ocean containers on cargo ships headed for Africa or the Middle East before victims even know they’re gone.”

All of those towns are in close proximity to several highways: Garden State Parkway, Rt. 208, Rt. 287, Rt. 17. Port of Newark, one of the biggest in the country, is only a few miles away. The City of Paterson, which is known to have many-a-chop-shop, a city where my own stolen Acura Integra was recovered, is even closer. OnStar and its equivalents work great unless they’re removed from the car, or the car is located somewhere without a satellite or cell phone signal, such as a… metal container. VINs and paperwork can be easily forged. Keys on the other hand are not so easy to obtain but it’s not a problem if they already happen to be in the car.

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