A sophisticated gang of thieves are continuing to carefully select unoccupied homes in wealthy neighborhoods and plot quick escape routes often to the nearest highway, the Morris County Prosecutor's Office said.
According to a statement released Friday by Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi, the crew has targeted high-end homes in quiet neighborhoods, often on a cul-de-sac and along the interstate corridors for a quick getaway.
The crew, which has been compared to the infamous James Bond Gang, has used luxury rental vehicles to blend into the communities, Bianchi said.
The thieves are believed to be responsible for burglaries in Boonton Township, Chatham, Chester, Hanover, Harding, Kinnelon, Long Hill, Mendham, Montville, Morris Township, Parsippany and Randolph, Bianchi said. The crew has also been linked to incidents in Bernardsville, Bernards, Bridgewater and Warren Township in Somerset County.
"These offenders have targeted high-end residences in affluent neighborhoods," Bianchi said. "Houses are typically selected by size, expensive vehicles identified in the driveway and the appearance of the residence being empty."
Many of the homes have been burglarized during the early-evening hours, Bianchi said. A member of the crew often rings the door bell to determine if anyone is home, Bianchi said. Other members of the group go behind the home to see if there is anyone inside, Bianchi said.
When the crew feels no one is home, phone lines have often been cut and entry is gained by forcing open the front or rear door, Bianchi said.
According to Bianchi, exterior lights have been shattered and an alarm system was disabled at a Chatham Township home where the masked men were caught on a security camera forcing their way into the front door.
One member of the group usually remains in a getaway vehicle and drives around the block until "summoned via walkie-talkie or cellular phone" to pick up the rest of the crew, Bianchi said.
A silver Porsche with New York license plates was seen near a recent Parsippany burglary believed to be connected to the gang.
The gang targets master bedrooms, usually stuffing jewelry and cash into a pillow case, Bianchi said. Furs, credit cards and safes have also been stolen, Bianchi said.
"The group is skilled in the use of electronic equipment to avoid detection," Bianchi said. "They use cellular phones to communicate and monitor police movements using radio scanners. The burglars may also disable audible alarms from inside the home."
The crew usually wears ski masks, gloves and have key chain flashlights, Bianchi said.
After the burglaries, the gang sells the stolen jewelry to "fences," Bianchi said.
Bianchi urges residents to avoid having newspapers and packages left outside while on vacation. The prosecutor said residents should always lock their doors, activate alarm systems and lock garages that lead into the residence. For a full list of precautions, visit the prosecutor's website.
Residents should report all suspicious activity to local police departments and contact the Morris County Sheriff's Office Crime Stopper Program at 973-COPCALL with any information regarding the incidents.