The police chiefs in the areas hit by burglars over the last few months met Monday with representatives of the Morris County Prosecutor’s office to share enforcement ideas and coordinate on a solution, police said.
According to Mendham Borough Police Chief Pat Libertino, whose department hosted the meeting that included Chiefs Steve Crawford from Mendham Township, Wayne Martini from Chester Township, Andre Kedrowitsch from Chester Borough and Acting Harding Officer In Charge Sgt. Mark Giansanti the discussion was illuminating.
“This is much bigger than I think any of us knew,” Libertino said. “The prosecutor sent two investigators and an assistant prosecutor to talk to us, so they are serious about this.”
There have been reports of burglaries in Randolph, Morris Township, Chatham and the Somerset Hills area, police said.
"In my opinion, I expect to see things get worse before they get better," Libertino said.
Bernardsville Police Chief Kevin Valentine sent a letter to residents regarding the recent spree and Libertino himself told residents to lock their doors and set their alarms.
“Even if you run out for five minutes,” Libertino said. “Just to grab milk. Lock your doors and set your alarms.”
And although Libertino said the recent string of burglaries were the work of a gang or multiple gangs, there has been no evidence to tie the thefts to the theatrically named "James Bond Gang," which plagued residents three decades ago.
Mendham Township Police Chief Steve Crawford asked for residents' help in stopping the burglaries. Crawford said he doesn't think the speculative ties to the James Bond Gang are accurate or helping catch the current gang.
For his part, Libertino called the meeting informative and noted the county was taking the lead on the investigation, but Libertino also said the individual chiefs were working on countermeasures of their own.
Libertino also said that residents have been calling and e-mailing in more tips, but asked one more thing.
“We really need the plate number of the suspicious vehicles people are seeing,” Libertino said. “We are getting tips on the makes and models and colors of cars with description of the drivers, but we need the plate.”
According to Libertino, the plate opens up the investigation.
“Once we have the plate we can find out if the car is stolen, leased or who owns it,” Libertino said. “Getting us that plate is almost as important as locking your doors.”