A homeless burglar who spent the night in a Cresskill family’s home was caught driving their SUV in East Rutherford, authorities said.
The arrest of 29-year-old Dirk McCalla underscores the relentless string of vehicle thefts in Bergen County, police said.
McCalla was driving the Honda Pilot stolen out of southeast Cresskill when East Rutherford police caught him going door-to-door searching for targets, authorities said.
Cresskill police charged him with burglary and theft, Detective Sgt. Jason Lanzilotti said.
Police in East Rutherford and the Monmouth County town of Rumson brought similar charges against McCalla, who remained held in the Bergen County Jail.
Meanwhile, police again urged residents to protect their homes – and particularly their vehicles.
Cresskill had six high-end luxury models stolen within the past two weeks – among them, a Mercedes and Range Rover, Lanzilotti said.
“It’s happening to people leaving key fobs in their vehicles,” the sergeant said.
Car thieves search for a simple indicator: Mirrors on modern high-end vehicles fold in when the vehicles are locked. Once inside the vehicle, the bandits usually find the key fob almost instantly.
Lanzilotti urged citizens to avoid becoming victims by taking several simple steps:
- Always lock your vehicle overnight, no matter where it’s parked;
- NEVER leave the key fob it in the vehicle – or anywhere where the vehicle can still be started;
- Never leave your vehicle running unattended and unlocked;
- Don't leave your vehicle parked with the windows open;
- Install an audible alarm system and visible anti-theft device;
- Consider installing a GPS tracking system;
- Install a recording camera in your driveway (they work).
The sergeant also asked citizens to remain aware of their surroundings and to report anything that looks suspicious to police.
“Your eyes are our eyes,” Lanzilotti said.
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