MARLBORO — The members of the Marlboro Township Council have introduced an ordinance that will, if adopted, levy penalties on individuals who are convicted of trespassing on private property for the purpose of stealing a motor vehicle.
The ordinance was placed on the Nov. 10 council meeting agenda by Mayor Jonathan Hornik and subsequently introduced by the council.
The ordinance will be the subject of a public hearing on Dec. 15. The council members may adopt the ordinance following the public hearing.
The ordinance carries a fine of up to $2,000 or imprisonment of up to 90 days
for each attempted vehicle theft. Trespassing in an attempt to steal a motor vehicle, even if the individual does not steal the vehicle, constitutes an offense under the proposed ordinance.
The charges would apply to adults and juveniles who attempt to steal a motor vehicle, according to Hornik and Township Attorney Louis Rainone.
“If you do wrong, you belong in jail. If the rest of (the towns in) New Jersey pass a similar ordinance, it will take criminals out of the car stealing business,” Hornik said.
In recent years, Marlboro and many other municipalities throughout the Garden State have dealt with numerous incidents of stolen vehicles, attempted stolen vehicles, the theft of items from vehicles and the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles. In some incidents, an adult has been charged with employing a juvenile in the commission of a crime.
Regarding the issue, Marlboro Police Chief Peter Pezzullo said, “We have a stellar police department, but with 32 square miles and 14,000 homes we cannot do it alone.
“Public participation and vigilance, as well as the use of technology, will continue to be critical to our success in apprehending those responsible for theft in our community.
“We have made over 30 arrests and successful vehicle thefts have decreased by more than 40% since March, but there is obviously still more work to be done,” the police chief said.
In 2018, Hornik announced Marlboro’s “See Something, Say Something and We Will Do Something” campaign in which residents are encouraged to report suspicious activity to the police department.
In March, the program was expanded to include home and vehicle safety due to the uptick in incidents. Township emails, social media messaging and Police SWIFT 911
texts remind residents to lock their vehicles and to take the key fob with them.
The initiative was expanded in May as Hornik and Pezzullo asked residents to take an online pledge agreeing to take basic steps to keep their home and vehicles safe. In return, a police officer delivered a lawn sign that serves as a reminder to neighbors and sends a warning to potential thieves to stay out of Marlboro.
Another program was implemented in September with the Neighbors App, which allows
police to request doorbell video from residents in specific areas to assist in police investigations.
Two weeks after the Marlboro Township Council introduced its ordinance regarding trespassing in an attempt to steal a vehicle, the members of the Township Committee in neighboring Holmdel introduced similar legislation.
On Nov. 22, Holmdel’s governing body proposed an ordinance that would make the following acts illegal:
• Entering or remaining on any driveway, paved surface, or location within 20 feet of a stationary motor vehicle, knowing he or she is not licensed or privileged to enter or remain in that location, and committing any of the following acts:
• Peering into a window of a motor vehicle the person does not own or have license or privilege to possess;
• Pulling a door handle or taking an action in an attempt to open or unlock a motor vehicle the person does not own or have license or privilege to possess;
• Possessing an electronic device that is capable of determining if an electronic key is inside a motor vehicle.
According to Holmdel officials, the violations would be punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and imprisonment of 90 days. That ordinance will be the subject of a public hearing on Dec. 13 and could be adopted at that time.