North Arlington, Pronti beefing up police presence following spike in car thefts, larcenies

North Arlington Mayor Daniel H. Pronti Observer file photo

North Arlington Mayor Daniel H. Pronti is addressing an ongoing concern over a recent trend of car thefts and thefts from vehicles locally and statewide, announcing a stronger police presence throughout the borough.

There are many contributing factors to the rise in car thefts, Pronti says, such as information being posted on the internet showing step-by-step methods to enter and to steal certain makes and models of vehicles. New Jersey’s changes in bail reform — releasing individuals jailed while awaiting trial for low-level offenses — may also be leading to more crimes of opportunity, including vehicle theft.

Thieves seem to be targeting neighborhoods such as North Arlington, where there is historically less crime, in anticipation of some property owners being less proactive in protecting their vehicles.

“Across the State of New Jersey, arrest rates are on the rise while prosecutions are down,” Pronti said. “Many people throughout law enforcement attribute this to the state’s bail reform policies, which unfortunately mandate the release of those who are arrested for non-violent crimes (theft, etc.), only to see them committing more of the same crimes as they await prosecution.

“Gov. Phil Murphy has since proposed several amendments to the state’s bail reform laws, but many believe more work needs to be done to help ensure the safety and security of the law abiding residents of our state.”

In North Arlington, motor vehicle thefts are up by three from last year to this year. The numbers obtained from the NAPD show 18 vehicles stolen in 2022, while 21 were stolen in 2023. Thefts from motor vehicles have actually decreased in north Arlington by three over the same time.

“Our agency continues to work with our law enforcement partners through intelligence and data sharing to identify crime patterns,” North Arlington Police Chief Scott Hedenberg said. “As a result, our patrol and investigative divisions are able to respond to each unique circumstance as they arise.

“These types of practices have resulted in an increase in arrests for vehicle and thefts of property from within a vehicle. For example, in 2022, our department made four arrests for these types of incidents and saw an increase to 16 arrests in 2023.”

Chief Hedenberg stresses residents should report any suspicious activity as soon as possible.

“Real time reporting and information is one of law enforcement’s greatest assets in identifying crime and those committing it,” the chief said.

Councilman Brian Fitzhenry added: “Our police department has been converted to a new work schedule, which will provide more police presence, around the clock, in an effort to better aid our residents and their property.”

That new scheduling — called Pitman shifts — (12-hour shifts) began at midnight Jan. 1.  According to the website Business Management Systems, “the Pitman fixed shift schedule uses four teams (crews) and two 12-hour shifts to provide 24/7 coverage. It consists of a two-week cycle where each team works two consecutive shifts, followed by two days off duty; works three consecutive shifts, followed by two days off duty, works two consecutive shifts, followed by three days off duty.

“Two teams are assigned day shifts while the other two are assigned night shifts. On any given day, one team is on the day shift, one team is on the night shift and two teams are off duty. Personnel are assigned to either day or night shifts for the two-week cycle and work an average 42 hours per week.”

North Arlington residents may also help deter car theft by:

• Locking car doors and windows

• Keeping valuables out of plain view 

• Removing keys and fobs from the vehicle

• Parking in well-lit areas

• Using immobilizer systems

• Implementing tracking technology

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.