Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Thieves Targeting Landscapers

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Thieves Targeting Landscapers

Article excerpt

Police are teaming up across county lines to try to solve a rash of landscaping equipment thefts, in some cases using surveillance video footage.

Thieves cut padlocks and broke windows overnight to steal the expensive equipment this month. Two commercial vehicles in East Hanover were broken into July 9. Six days later, four landscaping trailers and trucks were broken into in Wayne, West Milford and Bloomingdale. Leaf blowers, hedge trimmers and saws, among other gear, were stolen.

"I'm sure who is doing this is targeting that type of equipment," Wayne police Detective Jim Faber said. "They're probably stealing that stuff and selling it for cash."

Surveillance video from East Hanover, Wayne and Bloomingdale shows a white Cadillac Escalade at or near the scene of the thefts, police in several departments said. No suspect has been named, however.

"We're not very close to solving this yet," said West Milford police Detective John Pesenti.

In the July 9 incidents in East Hanover, two landscaping trailers parked at a business on Ridgedale Avenue were broken into and an estimated $12,800 worth of equipment was stolen, said township police Detective Lt. John Fox. Five RedMax backpack blowers, hedge trimmers, and Stihl demo saws, chain saws and pole saws were missing. The trailer's padlocks had been cut.

An electrical contractor in the township also was targeted. The vehicle's rear windows were broken and thousands of dollars' worth of equipment -- including angle drills, Sawzalls, drill bit kits and more than 50 other tools -- was stolen, Fox said. The theft occurred on Deforest Avenue, in the commercial warehouse parking lot adjacent to the police station.

"If you're on the other side of the building, you couldn't see them," Fox said.

East Hanover has "been in regular contact with Wayne and Bloomingdale, who [have] also been in constant contact with West Milford," Fox said.

Wayne, Bloomingdale and West Milford experienced similar thefts the night of July 14.

In West Milford, thieves entered an "industrial, secluded" yard overnight by cutting through a fence, Pesenti said. One trailer's locks were cut, but another was unlocked. Back blowers, weed trimmers and a generator, totaling $6,000 in value, were reported stolen.

"I guess there is a good market to sell them, a black market," Pesenti said. "Usually, no one will ask any questions."

In Bloomingdale, a landscaping truck parked in a back lot on Riverside Square was broken into, with a window smashed and several tools stolen, police said. A witness heard noises between 10:30 and 11 p.m., and surveillance cameras recorded footage of a "large, light- colored SUV ... leaving the scene," Bloomingdale Police Officer Dan Fletcher said.

On the same night in Wayne, surveillance footage recorded an older-model white Cadillac Escalade entering a Hamburg Turnpike property where two landscape trucks were broken into, Faber said. …

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