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DV Pilot police & fire

Unlocked doors let thief take valuables from several cars, Fair Lawn police say

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A quick-thinking resident helped Fair Lawn police arrest a man who they said snatched valuables from unlocked vehicles parked overnight.

Dale C. Pannullo Jr., 19, of Kearny tried to get into two other vehicles, but their owners had locked them, so he moved on, police said.

The caller summoned them to Burnham Place just before 3 this morning after seeing someone walking along the street, checking for unlocked doors – and finding his way into several, Sgt. Richard Schultz said.

Officers Kevin Wood, Paul Donohue, William Hickey, Edward Egan, Lonnie Mergler, Kenneth Cavanaugh and Chris Siano immediately spotted Pannulo walking toward the Radburn “B” park, Schultz said. He tossed a couple of things into bushes nearby and kept walking, they said.

Pannulo still had some stolen items in his pockets when the officers took him in to custody, the sergeant said.

Apparently, someone dropped him off earlier and Pannulo was testing car doors when the alert resident took action, Schultz said.

This only reinforces a message the sergeant himself sent out just yesterday – a theme echoed repeatedly by police in Bergen this summer.

Fair Lawn police had nearly a dozen reports of thefts from cars in the last week and a half of June. Why it’s happening is less a function of the economy, Schultz said, than it is of opporunity.

“In each case, the vehicle owner either left a car window partially open or one of the car doors unlocked,” he said. “In each case where there was an item stolen, the items such as GPS units, wallets and such were left either out in the open or in an unlocked glove box or console.”

Pannullo is being held on $2,500 bail at the Bergen County Jail pending a July 27 Municipal Court hearing.

Meanwhile, police urge that you protect your valuables:

1. Eliminate the opportunity: Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle. Period.

2. Understand that adding an obstacle dramatically increases the chance a thief will leave your vehicle alone — the same as a dog, a motion detector light or an alarm will protect your home. “Push the button on your door clicker and lock the car,” Wyckoff Police Chief Fox said. “If the car is locked, they move on and your property is safe. If you have left your car unlocked, you will be a victim.”

3. Most car burglaries occur at night. So if you see someone suspicious in your neighborhood, DON’T HESITATE to call police – the way the Fair Lawn resident did. You are not bothering them. You are helping protect yourself and your neighbors, as the caller proved.

4. It’s easy to forgot this when you stop at the post office, drug store or supermarket, but car thieves love the number of victims who literally drive right up with items for them to steal. No matter how quick a stop it is, take your valuables with you and lock your vehicle. You never know who’s lingering nearby.

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