Mayor’s Statement – Lock Your Doors!

October 2, 2022

Unfortunately, it’s open season for stealing cars in New Jersey… 

Do you lock your car every time you leave it unattended?

Especially in your driveway? 

 If not, you are vulnerable.  In an instant, your car, along with your children or valuables inside, could be taken from right in front of your house. 

Leaving key fobs in unlocked cars, or even worse, leaving cars running and unattended, is an open invitation for dangerous car thieves who are preying on our community.  Many of the individuals involved in these car thefts are career criminals with long RAP sheets. Once these vehicles are stolen, they are often used to commit other crimes such as robberies and homicides. 

Chatham, like many towns in Morris County and surrounding counties, is a high value target for these criminals who come into our town at all hours of the day and night.  Unlocked vehicles are particularly easy to spot because most have side-view mirrors that fold in when locked.  An unattended vehicle with folded out mirrors is an open invitation to criminals to see if the fob has been left in it.  However, they aren’t afraid to try opening doors to see if they are unlocked. Once access to a vehicle is obtained, they press the push start button.  If the vehicle turns on, they drive away as fast as they can to the closest highway.  Additionally, these criminals have become proficient at disabling the car tracking and navigation systems so that the cars cannot be tracked once stolen.   

Our fantastic law enforcement alone cannot curb auto theft. They need the help of the public.   You can do your part in combatting this serious issue by making smart choices with your vehicles.

You can avoid falling victim to auto theft and help prevent more crime by following these few tips:

  • Never leave your keys or key fob in your vehicle
  • Always lock your car doors and make sure windows are closed
  • Never leave your vehicle running while unattended
  • Park your car in well-lit areas
  • Remove your valuables and garage door openers
  • Keep your attached garage doors closed and entrances to the house locked
  • Install motion-detection lighting and security cameras directed at your driveway
  • Make sure your vehicle’s tracking system is activated if your vehicle has one
  • If you see something suspicious, call 911 immediately
  • If your vehicle is stolen, call 911 immediately, report the theft to your insurance company, and most importantly, do not try to recover your car on your own 

The sad truth is that our ability to legislate and respond locally is limited in New Jersey. These limitations include no jurisdiction on vehicular pursuit policy, criminal penalties, bail laws and other state-level contributing legislation.  NJ has experienced a statewide rise in crime due to the no-cash bail, de-criminalizing many egregious acts and resulting in a level of leniency which encourages criminality. 

However, we are leaving no stone unturned in implementing any idea that we can in Chatham Township.  The Township Committee’s number one priority has been and will continue to be public safety.  We have proactively pursued several preventative measures.  Some are already in place and others are scheduled in short order.   

This year, we have:

  • Authorized the purchase and installation of security cameras throughout municipal properties, parks, fields, and intersections to provide intelligence and evidence for pursuing criminal activity in the Township
  • Authorized the purchase of new, faster, and more robust Mobile Data Terminals (MDT) for the police patrol vehicles
  • Installed new license plate readers that can alert officers of “hot sheet” vehicles and individuals that enter our Township, particularly in stolen vehicles used to steal other vehicles. This technology is interconnected with county and regional systems that provide close to real time data
  • Budgeted for new police vehicles and equipment, speed study equipment and speed readout signs.  We have authorized the replacement of more vehicles this year than each of the previous 2 years, including several aging vehicles over 11 years old

Community engagement with the police is an important part of keeping our community informed and safe.  Chatham Township Police Department does phenomenal work, but they need our help.  Protect yourself.  Lock your cars and your homes! 

Ashley Felice


Chatham Township

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new website for the Township of Chatham in New Jersey! As we continue to build and enhance this online space, you may notice that some links and files are currently missing. We are working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that all information and resources are made available to you as soon as possible.


NOTICE:  The Chatham Township Municipal Building will close early, at 1:30 p.m. on Fridays beginning May 24th through August 30th.