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Holmdel officials adopt ordinance targeting perpetrators of vehicle thefts

HOLMDEL — The members of the Township Committee have adopted an ordinance that  makes certain acts illegal when those acts are committed by individuals who may be planning to commit vehicle theft in Holmdel.

During a meeting on Dec. 13, Mayor Greg Buontempo, Deputy Mayor D.J. Luccarelli, Committeeman Rocco Impreveduto and Committeeman Brian Foster voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the ordinance.

One seat on the five-member governing body has remained open since Cathy Weber resigned from the Township Committee several months ago.

The newly adopted ordinance will make the following acts in Holmdel 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 located inside a motor vehicle.

According to municipal officials, these violations will be punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and imprisonment of 90 days.

During the public hearing that preceded the committee members’ vote to adopt the ordinance, resident Bill Little commented on the proposed municipal legislation.

Little said he believed the proposed ordinance was “overly broad” and asked, “Does this mean if a person is walking on a street and there is a car parked there, that the person cannot go up to the car and admire it? This (ordinance) is ridiculously broad.”

In response to Little’s comments, Township Attorney Michael Collins said the members of the Township Committee have been looking at ways to address the issue of car thefts and the theft of personal property from vehicles “in areas we can regulate. State law generally governs this issue.”

The theft of vehicles and the theft of personal property from vehicles have plagued Holmdel and neighboring communities for several years.

“Our intent was to create ordinance violations for certain conduct,” Collins explained. “From a practical perspective, police will not issue citations for proper conduct. You are allowed to be on a public street (and look at a parked car). This ordinance applies to going onto private property.”

Impreveduto said supporting residents and the police is the intent of the ordinance and added that “it is not open season on Holmdel anymore. Public safety is our No. 1 priority.”

The four seated committee members then voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance.

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