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Authorities: Carjackings On The Rise In North Jersey Suburbs

A Range Rover in connection with a fatal carjacking at The Mall at Short Hills. (credit: CBS 2)

A Range Rover in connection with a fatal carjacking at The Mall at Short Hills. (credit: CBS 2)

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Earlier this week Hoboken attorney Dustin Friedland was gunned down in front of his wife during a carjacking at the Short Hills Mall.

Carjackings have skyrocketed in parts of Essex County and have spread to nearby suburbs, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported Friday.

The makes of choice for local bandits have been Range Rover, Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz.

“Very scary to know these are the cars being targeted,” Taylor Branch said.

So far in 2013, there have been 450 carjackings in Essex County, up from 422 in 2012, and 410 in 2011. In 2009, there were just 200.

Law enforcement experts said that those numbers should scare you.

“They said they make more money stealing one car than they do slinging drugs on the street corner and their risk of getting killed by the competition is much lower,” former Morris County detective Dan Coleman explained.

On the day that Friedland was killed another Range Rover was carjacked in South Orange. Investigators are trying to determine if the two crimes are connected.

A demand for nice cars has made the luxury SUVs popular with thieves, and new technology like push-button starters make hot wiring the new models virtually impossible, so criminals need the car and the key.

Ten percent of the stolen cars wind up in containers at nearby ports, Sloan reported.

“There are very sophisticated rings stealing luxury cars and shipping them overseas. In a post-9/11 world we’re watching what’s coming into the port. What’s going out isn’t watched as closely,” Coleman said.

Many of those cars are then sent to Africa where there is a high demand for luxury vehicles, Sloan reported.

Surveillance footage has even shown thieves stealing cars at gas stations, following drivers home, or initiating bogus accidents by bumping cars from behind.

“Don’t follow them because they’ll shoot you for something stupid,” said the owner of a Bentley who was bumped while driving.

The problem exists all over the Tri-State Area, even on Long Island where officials in Nassau County recently sent out an alert to luxury car owners.

Authorities said that anybody who is carjacked should give up their keys and walk away.

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