Police issue tips to combat recent string of car vandalism cases

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    Sussex County-local police departments are urging Sussex County residents to be vigilant when it comes to protecting their automobiles and property. Last month, four youths ranging in ages from 13 to 18-years-old were arrested for a string of burglaries that left 16 Newton vehicles damaged. However, the problem extends far beyond that of the county seat. Andover Township had similar problems late last month when underage children allegedly vandalized and stole a sport utility vehicle from an unattended gas station. One of the youngsters had already been on probation for a burglary he committed last July. The neighboring Township of Sparta has not reported any similar incidents, however, Sparta Sergeant Russell Smith acknowledge that no municipality is immune. "When an automobile is vandalized, it's a tremendous public nuisance," said Smith. "In most cases, a car is the second largest investment a person makes." Smith said that typically automobile vandals are young adults "with nothing better to do." In fact he said, summer months are typically the worst times for such acts of destruction. The sergeant said that residents can help protect themselves by using some common sense precautions, such as locking their cars. "People leave their cars open, and then are surprised to find laptops, phones, change, and cds stolen," said Smith. He also suggest automobile owners should roll the windows all the way up to avoid a thief from pushing down on the window and unlocking the car. Another way people make themselves easy targets is by leaving the car running in the parking lot while doing an errand, such as going into convenience stores to make a quick purchase. "Don't be surprised if you walk out and your car isn't there," said Smith. Smith said that police departments need help from the community to combat these types of nuisances. "Having the thousands of eyes and ears of the community can help a department like Sparta which only has 40 officers," said Smith. "If you see or hear something and you don't call the police to report it, you are contributing to the cause. Even worse, your car could be next."