Several Teaneck residents shared on social media on Tuesday, Jan. 24 that they had cars broken into and stolen the previous night, either late Monday or early Tuesday. The victims reported that a group of criminals were searching for unlocked car doors in the northwest section of Teaneck. According to a statement from the Teaneck Police Department, the owners of the stolen vehicles had all left their keys and/or fobs behind, prompting a much needed reminder to always lock up cars and stay vigilant.
The Teaneck Township Manager confirmed that there were a total of three cars stolen overnight, each on W. Englewood Avenue, Maitland Avenue and Downing Street, respectively. All three vehicles were found parked together on a single street in Newark and returned to their owners. Along with the car thefts, there were several car burglaries on the same night, with reports continuing to pour in.
Captain Seth Kriegel of the Teaneck Police Department shared with The Jewish Link that the cars were discovered in Newark thanks to GPS tracking done on one of the vehicles. “When we arrived at that location, we saw the other two cars there as well,” he said.
“We have limited information about the thefts and we are actively investigating at this time,” said Captain Kriegel. “We have obtained surveillance footage and we are reviewing it; it appears there are a number of young males that targeted one particular area of Teaneck, and we are attempting to identify them.”
“Be aware and alert!” reads the official Teaneck PD statement posted to social media this week. “Please remember to lock your vehicle doors and don’t leave your keys, vehicle fobs, or valuables in your vehicle.”
Teaneck councilmember and Jewish Link co-publisher Mendy Schwartz described the thieves as “highly professional.” He shared, “our community is dense and each house has multiple cars…these thieves have the potential to check hundreds of cars every night for open doors. The amount of personal belongings, petty cash and change, and potentially a fob to steal the car, is huge!”
Chaverim of Bergen County echoed the same alarm in a notice which reads: “Lock it, take it, hide it—make sure to lock your car, never leave your keys behind and protect your valuables.”
Sol Itzkowitz of Chaverim shared with The Jewish Link that members of the community should “keep their eyes and ears open,” and that the organization is “on alert” for any suspicious activity.
According to Captain Kriegel, none of the vehicle owners agreed to have their cars processed for latent evidence, which generally is recommended in cases such as these. “We understand that processing is an added inconvenience, on top of all of the trouble these victims have gone through,” he explained. “But a major piece in solving crimes is obtaining fingerprints and DNA possibly left behind in these cars to identify the perpetrators. It is a key way we can combat these types of crimes and investigate them.” He noted that the processing is usually done on the same day by the Sheriff’s Department, and entails a light dusting of the vehicle’s interior which can be cleaned up easily.
He continued, “Of course, we always recommend you lock your cars. Always make sure to park in well-lit areas if possible. And keep an eye out for someone you don’t recognize — give us a call when you see someone acting suspicious and we will come out and investigate.”.
Said Councilman Schwartz, “We will continue, as a town, to increase patrols and do our part; but every resident has to follow three words: LOCK YOUR DOORS!”
Captain Kriegel confirmed that the Teaneck Police Department is increasing in response to this recent rash of criminal activity.
This is not the first time Teaneck has been terrorized by car thieves in recent years. In October 2021, six cars were stolen overnight and eventually recovered to their owners, thanks to the efforts of Chaverim, Teaneck PD and the NYPD in Inwood, where the cars were found.
The Teaneck Police Department Detective Bureau is still seeking more information to bring the car thieves to justice. All tips are anonymous and confidential and can be submitted at 201-837-2565 or to Crime Stoppers at 844-466-6789.
By Channa Fischer