Bedminster organizes local towns to fight crime

BEDMINSTER TWP. – With a rise in car thefts and other crimes in the area drawing concern, township officials have organized a working group of local mayors and police chiefs to combat the problem.

Mayor Larry Jacobs said at the Township Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 5, that the group was convened at the municipal building earlier in the day.

Participating, he said, were himself, mayors Jennifer Asay of Bernards Township, Mary Jane Canose of Bernardsville, Kevin Welsh of Far Hills, Mark Corigliano of Peapack-Gladstgone and Matthew Moench of Bridgewater Township, as well as police chiefs Frank Bernardo of Bedminster, Jon Burger of Bernards and John B. Mitzak of Bridgewater.

The participants spent two hours sharing the experiences of the police departments and the elected officials, Jacobs said.

Among the topics were “a lot of Ring camera videos of kids checking out cars, knocking on doors,” he said.

“There is tremendous concern among the residents,” the mayor added. The mayors and police chiefs discussed what they can do, what they can learn from each other, and if there are issues they can take “up the ladder” of government and law enforcement.

“It’s a working group now” and has been tentatively dubbed the Somerset Hills Safety Committee, Jacobs said. Participants are looking to meet monthly, with more input to be sought from detectives of different police departments.

They plan to discuss “what’s working, what could be working better” and “getting the word out to residents” to lock their cars, keep packages in cars out of view, and lock the doors to their homes.

“We will continue to have updates,” Jacobs said.

Crime has been a key topic at recent public meetings in several towns.

In Bernardsville, Police John Remian gave a presentation to the Borough Council last Dec. 11. Remian said the number of car thefts in the borough was not much greater than a decade ago but has risen since the pandemic.

He said an “alarming” trend has criminals now entering homes to get car keys.

On Jan. 22, council members said they would try to combat car thefts by providing the police department with rented license plate readers that would be installed at entrances to town.

In Bedminster, Lt. Thomas Polito spoke at a committee meeting last Dec. 18. He described the tactics of a national crime ring that targets any area where cars park so they can enter or break into those cars to steal exposed valuables.

In Bernards Township, Mayor Asay said at the Township Committee meeting on Jan. 23 that police have increased patrols to combat crime in locations and times when they occur.

Asay also said that, at the suggestion of a local resident, the township was launching a platform where residents could upload doorbell camera and related videos to police for use in their investigations.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in The Bernardsville News.

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