Getting a missed call with no voicemail can be unnerving. When Pamela Beardslee, a nine-year resident of West Orange, returned the call, her neighbor told her to look outside.
“We found our car sitting on the cement,” she said.
Beardsley has unwittingly joined an exclusive club of West Orange residents who have woken up to find all four tires on their cars missing. Although the midnight bandits are still on the loose, they seem to have a modus operandi, targeting Honda Accords that are parked overnight in parking lots.
The West Orange Police Department confirmed they are aware of the crimewave, saying it’s a statewide problem, but couldn’t offer further details, citing ongoing investigations.
“Local police agencies are working together,” said Joe Fagan, the West Orange public information officer. “All residents are reminded to always lock their car doors and be vigilant as this is often a crime of opportunity.”
The recent spree has left some residents scratching their heads over why the thieves are making off with whole tires, when it used to be more common to just steal the hubcaps. Others think it’s just a sign of our troubled times.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said the employee of a local towing company. “In desperate times, people get desperate.”
Meanwhile, Beardslee, who’s been keeping her ear to the ground and following updates on social media, believes she was one of at least five others in the town who have fallen prey this winter alone — and that number seems only destined to grow.
“These people know what they’re doing,” she warns. “They’re in and out.”
In the meantime, Beardslee, who recently invested in a security camera, said she’s keeping her eyes peeled and spreading the word. But she admits there is a limit on how vigilant one person can be without letting it rule your life.
“I guess you could sit outside every single night waiting for something to happen,” she said.
To report any suspicious activity to the West Orange Police, call 973-325-4000 or call 911 to report an emergency.