The message on the electronic billboard parked on the side of the road at Princeton Battlefield State Park is simple and direct: “Cars have locks. Use them.”
That’s what the Princeton Police Department is urging residents to do, following a head-on crash that killed the driver of a stolen car and another driver Nov. 7 on Princeton-Kingston Road.
While police were investigating an attempted car theft on Clover Lane, a stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee that was involved in the attempted theft passed by. A short time later, the Jeep Grand Cherokee crashed into an oncoming car, killing both drivers.
Police said 11 cars have been stolen from their owner’s driveways since January – including the most recent theft that occurred Nov. 7, when a Range Rover was stolen from the driveway of a Dodds Lane home by one of the occupants of the stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee that was involved in the fatal crash.
Of the 11 reports of stolen cars, the majority of the stolen vehicles were unlocked and the key or key fob was left in the vehicle, police said. Car thefts have been reported in neighboring towns, including West Windsor.
Since January, nearly two dozen cars have been entered and rummaged through while they were parked in their owner’s driveway, police said. Most of the cars had been left unlocked.
But those car thefts can be prevented, if residents would lock their car doors and take the key inside the house with them, police said. Residents also should lock their homes at all times, including the door into the house from the garage. The garage door should be lowered, too.
The windows and exterior doors to the house should also be locked to prevent a burglary, police said. Porch lights and floodlights should be turned on to deter potential thieves, and burglar alarms should be set, police said.
Burglaries and thefts are crimes of opportunity, and taking those steps – from locking the car and taking the key inside, as well as lowering the garage door and locking doors and windows to the house – will help to prevent crime, police said.
Residents who have security cameras at their homes or businesses are encouraged to sign up for the Princeton Police Department’s voluntary home camera registration program. Registering the security cameras would help the Princeton Police Department to maintain a database of active cameras in the event that a crime occurs in the neighborhood, police said. The camera may capture information that could help to solve the crime.
It does not give police access to the camera system.
Residents and business owners who want to voluntarily register their cameras can do so by going online to https://princeton.seamlessdocs.com/f/CommCameraReg.