Cranbury police investigations continue into recent auto thefts

Cranbury Police vehicle flashes lights at National Night Out in Cranbury.

Cranbury police are investigating the theft of a 2022 silver Land Rover Defender that occurred in the early morning hours the weekend of April 3.

According to the police department, Cranbury police received a report of the stolen vehicle on April 2. The motor vehicle theft took place in the area of Evans Drive, Stockton Drive and Station Road.

“The keys were left inside the unlocked vehicle at the time of the theft. Police happened to be in the area at approximately 4:25 a.m. after a resident called in suspicious activity in that vicinity,” Chief of Police Michael Owens said. “That resident observed a subject pulling car door handles, searching for unlocked cars. Our units observed a dark colored Jeep SUV running with the lights off on Evans Drive.”

He said patrol units attempted to engage in a motor vehicle stop.

“The suspect vehicle fled onto Station Road, ran a red light while turning north onto Route 130. The vehicle continued at a high rate of speed on north Route 130,” Owens said. “Our officers did not pursue the fleeing vehicle.”

The Cranbury police department’s investigations on the theft and activity remain ongoing.

“Since the start of the year, our officers have been busy with numerous investigations,” Owens said.

Those investigations include a March 30 report of a stolen Honda CRV from a warehouse parking lot; a March 31 report of a stolen airbag from another Honda CRV; and a Feb. 28 report of a stolen Honda Accord from a warehouse parking lot.

“These thefts are also being investigated at this time. Cranbury and the surrounding towns have all been affected by these car thefts,” he said. “The entire state has seen an increase with motor vehicle thefts. We encourage our residents to lock their vehicles and remove the spare key fobs from within.”

The police department is stressing that residents remain vigilant within their neighborhoods and immediately report suspicious activity.

“We have been working to spread the messages and alerts of the crime activity through our Nixle alerts, our Cranbury Police Facebook page, and township websites,” Owens said.

In early March, Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan warned residents in the state about a significant increase in motor vehicle thefts statewide.

They said the stolen vehicles are frequently used to commit other violent crimes.

For 2021, there were a total of 14,320 vehicles reported stolen in New Jersey, a 22% increase in overall thefts compared to 2020, according to New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.