State Police have arrested two Upper Township men who allegedly burglarized more than 1,000 cars in Upper, Dennis and Middle townships and Somers Point over the past six months.
Police arrested Christopher Mander, 23, and Vincent Laracombe, 25, on Nov. 16 and charged them with burglary, theft and weapons offenses. They are both in Cape May County jail pending $100,000 bail.
Woodbine State Police Det. Mark Devine said the two men stole at least $10,000 in merchandise from cars and at least four homes, selling some of it to supply a suspected heroin addiction.
"There were a lot of people that did feel terrorized by this, absolutely," Devine said. "I know we had phone calls from people who said that they didn't feel safe in their homes because their purses were taken, there were keys taken out of their purses."
At a news conference Tuesday, a table in the Woodbine barracks was littered GPS units, iPods, wallets, watches, sunglasses and more items that the men allegedly stole. Police said the items were recovered from Mander's home in Upper Township, and some have since been returned to their owners.
"The modus operandi for these crimes were that the subjects would scope out neighborhoods, one person would get out, they would look at cars that were unlocked, or if they looked inside the vehicle and determined there was something of value, they would smash a window, gain entry to that vehicle and take those items of value," Devine said.
Devine said Mander and Laracombe were believed to strike late at night, around 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., sometimes looking for unlocked cars and breaking the windows of others to steal what was inside.
Police said the thieves left clues, and with help from Middle Township and Somers Point police they were able to catch them. Devine said that since the investigation is ongoing, he could not release more information about how they were apprehended.
Devine said that anyone who believes they may have been victimized or has more information about the crimes should contact State Police at 609-861-5698. Some victims who were visiting during the summer, from as far away as Iowa and Maryland, have already been contacted to retrieve items.
"We are a seasonal community. Some of our victims probably don't even realize they've been burglarized," Devine said.