Fear Grips Jersey Shore Towns as Car Thefts, Home Invasions Soar
By: Fern Sidman
A palpable sense of fear and trepidation has enveloped residents of several Jersey Shore towns as reports have emerged about an widespread outbreak of car thefts, home invasions and a variety of robberies.
According to sources close to the matter, the towns of Deal, Allenhurst, Eatontown, Oakhurst, Elberon, Ocean Township, Long Branch, and West Long Branch has seen a dramatic uptick in car thefts by a crime ring that utilizes young men, some of whom are under the age of 18.
During the summer months, these towns on the Jersey Shore are brimming with vacationers as well as those who reside there at their summer homes during this season.
The modus operandi of the crime syndicate is to attempt home break-ins in the middle of the night and during these wee hours of the morning, they gain access to residences, take whatever they find of value with a focus on obtaining car keys. Using crowbars and other objects designed to cut locks and loosen doors and windows, the robbers have absconded with valuable possessions in addition to high end vehicles.
Some people have opined that the vehicles being stolen are then exported out of the country for sales abroad while others have concluded that the cars are being sent to “chop shops” to be sold for parts. Neither conjecture has been substantiated by local law enforcement agencies.
Residents who are gripped by fear have expressed their feelings about the rash of home invasions and theft of cars. “I feel totally vulnerable violated in every way,” said a 41-year old woman who declined to give her name. “I am really worried and terribly concerned about my family’s safety and those of my neighbors and friends. We all come down here every summer to relax and for things like this to happen really sends a jolt down our spines. I am praying that the police and other agencies will take this matter seriously and beef up their patrols,” she said.
Besides local police departments in the Jersey Shore area, working assiduously to protect residents, their homes and vehicles is the Flatbush Shomrim, a team of well-trained volunteers dedicated to protecting their community and responding to incidents involving criminal activity, special category missing persons and domestic violence. In the summer months, their emphasis in terms of community protection extends to the Jersey Shore where many of the people they generally serve in Brooklyn reside.
Addressing the issue of the exponential rise in burglaries and home invasions at the Jersey Shore was Brooklyn resident and a member of the Flatbush Shomrim, who is among those who reside in this seaside community during the summer months.
In an interview with the Jewish Voice, the Flabush Shomrim member attributed the increase in criminal activity in the Jersey Shore area to problems in the local system of justice that prevent punitive measures being meted out to criminals. “From September to June, these Jersey Shore towns are “sleepy” ones and not much in the way of serious criminal offenses are seen so police departments are able to function with a limited amount of officers,” he said. “During the summer months, however, criminals and car thieves are well aware that New York City residents come down here for the summer and bring their expensive vehicles. They see it as an opportunity to steal the kind of cars that they do have the opportunity to do during the rest of the calendar year.”
He added that this summer, in particular, thefts have significantly increased.
Working in tandem with local law enforcement authorities, the Flatbush Shomrim are on call 24/7 with a special hotline for residents to call if they are victims of a crime or if they see or hear any suspicious activity, he told the Jewish Voice.
The Flatbush Shromrim patrol the affected Jersey Shore towns in private, unmarked vehicles. “We have one marked vehicle that we use for patrolling purposes and in the next 12 hours we are getting another marked patrol vehicle in the hopes that this will serve as a deterrent to the band of thieves that are committing these crimes in this area, “ he explained.
When queried as to what can be done to quell this rise in car thefts and home invasions, the Flatbush Shomrim member told the Jewish Voice that the New Jersey State Police must take a more active role and that Garden State Governor Phil Murphy as well as the FBI and local elected officials need to take concrete measures to beef up patrols as well as having state funds allocated for additional local police officers.
As to what terrified residents can do to protect themselves, he said that while he is most definitely not advocating for the use of firearms by local residents, he did say that gun laws in New Jersey allow for residents to apply for and receive gun permits if their credentials meet state approval.
“I will say that if people choose to own and carry a handgun or any type of firearm, it would behoove them to learn how to use them properly by taking a series of gun safety courses and to practice what they have learned as the law stipulates that perpetrators of crimes can only be shot in the chest and not the back, “ he noted.
He added that, “The main thing is that if residents see something of a suspicious nature, they should first contact their local law enforcement agencies and then immediately subsequent to that, they should contact the Flatbush Shomrim at 718-338-9797. Our job is to prevent criminal activity before it happens and all leads that are given to us are taken seriously and given the highest priority as we work in conjunction with the local police forces.”
He urged community members on the Jersey Shore to add the following local police force phone numbers to their speed dials.
Allenhurst – 732-531-2255
Deal – 732-531-1113
Eatontown – 732-542-0100
Ocean Township – 732-531-1800
Long Branch – 732-222-1000
West Long Branch – 732-229-5000
Flatbush Shomrim – 718-338-9797
In a statement sent out by the Community Security Alliance (CSA) of Brooklyn on Monday morning, an emergency Zoom meeting was scheduled to take place at 5 pm on July 31st to address this matter.
The statement said that “Local Leaders Demand Urgent Actions!” and continued by saying, “The tranquil beachfront community of Deal, New Jersey and surrounding towns, including Long Branch, West Long Branch, Elberon are currently grappling with a distressing and life threatening increase in burglaries and home invasions. Local law enforcement’s limited ability to curb this wave of criminal activity has prompted community leaders to call upon the Governor, State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for immediate assistance.
In recent weeks, the region has witnessed a tremendous uptick in burglaries, Last night nearly half a dozen homes were victims of this horrendous wave of crime with over 50 reported attempts of car theft and an alarming 20 successful cases. Additionally, there have been at least seven horrifying incidents of home invasion, leaving families frightened.
The frequency and audacity of these crimes have deeply shaken the community, with no one to turn to. Families are living in fear, and want to return back to their permanent residence in Brooklyn, New York.
Please join the Community Security Alliance, Community Security Service and community leaders for an emergency security meeting at 5 pm on zoom.”
In the aftermath of the Zoom meeting, Shomrim member and President of the Community Security Alliance, David Assis told the Jewish Voice that over 300 Jersey Shore residents attended the Zoom meeting and in addition the New Jersey Attorney General was represented as well as the chiefs of police in Deal and Long Branch. Also in attendance was Deal, New Jersey Mayor Samuel Cohen.
According to Mr. Assis, a number people at the emergency meeting felt terrorized by the rampant burglaries and home invasions. “People are quite panicked to know that criminals are wandering through their homes in the middle of the night and that when they arise the next morning there might be a chance that they find that their vehicle has been stolen, “ he said.
Mr. Assis added that, “we come from Brooklyn every summer to get away from crime and the generalized tension of city living. On the Jersey Shore, we hope to live in peace, tranquility and complete safety and unfortunately that is not the case this summer. Things have changed for the worse. Ten years ago, people on the Jersey Shore during the summers left their doors and windows open and nothing was ever locked or bolted down.”
Mr. Assis also told the Jewish Voice that at the emergency meeting, three victims of home robberies addressed the assemblage with their stories of what occurred.
“One victim was terrorized twice in four days,” said Mr. Assis, adding that the fear among those present was beyond palpable.
Also serving as regional manager of Community Security Service, Mr. Assis said that a crime wave is spreading throughout the Garden State and affecting multiple communities in northern New Jersey as well. “People in other areas of New Jersey, particularly in the northern part of the state are leaving their affluent enclaves to move to other towns due to the upsurge in crime,” he said.
Mr. Assis added that the New Jersey attorney general’s office along with the help of other agencies of state will be positing themselves in the forefront of battle to tamper down the crime rate on the Jersey Shore. Moreover, local police forces will also receive assistance in getting more cops out on the streets.
He also assured residents of the area that the Flatbush Shormrim will be on duty throughout the night and the coming nights ahead until arrests have been made and the rate of thefts dramatically decreases.
“The most important thing that we accomplished at the emergency meeting was that we educated the public about safety precautions, “ Mr. Assis said.
“We told people never to leave their keys in their car, but rather to bring them into their homes and place them in concealed location. We also told people at the meeting that if they become a victim of a crime or if they witness suspicious activity to report it directly to the police, rather than calling 911,“ he said.