WESTFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – There is a major uptick in home burglaries with the intent to steal the car key fobs in several Union County towns.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, the Colby family was startled awake at 2 a.m. Saturday in their Westfield home.READ MORE: Annual Juneteenth Festival In Bedford-Stuyvesant Takes On New Meaning In 2021
“I just heard some noise from downstairs. I didn’t hear them smash the window, I just kind of heard, like, thumping and stuff,” Jack Colby said.
“When he looked out window, he saw that there were people around my car,” Peggy Colby said.
“I came downstairs, immediately went into, like, survival mode,” said 17-year-old Justin Colby.
Burglars broke through the window of their back door to unlock it, grabbing wallets from the counter, and key fobs.
“We’ve seen our criminals become more brazen lately. We’ve seen homes forcibly entered in an apparent search for key fobs to steal cars parked in the driveway,” said Westfield Chief of Police Christopher Battiloro.
The Colbys luckily scared the would-be car thieves off.
“It is a safe neighborhood. Unfortunately this town is a target for whatever reason. I know that there are a lot of families who think it’s OK to leave their keys in their car or unlocked,” Peggy Colby said.READ MORE: Georgia Man Arrested For 2020 Rape Of Woman Who Was Dragged Into Queens Alley
Just in the last week, two homes, including the Colbys, were hit, and four cars stolen. Battiloro says every single car has been recovered in Essex County, the majority from Newark.
“They’re likely filling orders, to be honest with you. They are shopping for cars here in Westfield,” Battiloro said.
A flashing sign reminds people to lock their cars, take their keys, and don’t leave them easily accessible inside the home. Patrols have increased, pushing criminals into nearby towns.
Video posted by Berkeley Heights Police shows a suspect looking in windows. Police say that suspect entered through an unlocked window, took a key fob from a purse, and made off with a high-end car.
“A lot of people have a tendency to drop their keys on the kitchen counter or to put them on a table just inside the front door and that’s making an easy grab,” said Battiloro.
Battiloro stresses that residents have a personal responsibility to make their cars and homes a more difficult target and remove the opportunity.
The thefts are taking place at all hours of the day. Police remind residents to report any suspicious activity.MORE NEWS: Tropical Storm Claudette Batters Gulf Coast With Heavy Rain And Flooding
Meg Baker contributed to this report.