Authorities track spike in valet auto thefts in Bergen County, New Jersey

Cliffside Park, New Jersey (WABC) — A man’s brand new BMW X5 went missing after being stolen from an attendant at the Villa Amalfi restaurant in Cliffside Park a few weeks ago.

“I thought, oh, maybe my friends were making fun of me, maybe they knew how much I love my car,” said Joe Mazzocchi. “Then I started to realize that he had gone in to get the manager. When the manager came out, I knew it was real.”

Exclusive police body camera video shows a police officer questioning an attendant who realizes the car and keys are missing after leaving it briefly to go to the bathroom.

Officers also searched for surveillance video, but could not find it.

This isn’t the first time a car has been stolen from the same agent. In fact, a restaurant employee told Eyewitness News that there had been at least three attacks in the past year and a half, including attacks on other fine dining restaurants in Paramus and Edgewater.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Steve Sapp said “95 percent of those vehicles were bound for West Africa.”

Sapp says that’s probably what Masocchi’s BMW was aiming for. Stolen from Bergen County, it was placed in a shipping container and hoisted over 300 miles south to Baltimore Harbor, where it was seen still in port Thursday morning.

“This is like a source of income for transnational criminal gangs. They are trying to make money in any way they can and the business model they use is stealing cars, especially new models. , to ship out of the United States immediately,” added Sapp.

It’s been a long-standing problem in the Port of Newark, with crackdowns now underway and criminals heading south.

In 2021, the Baltimore field office seized 95 vehicles, but last year it surged to 239.

“I think it was a very expensive meal,” Masocchi said.

Mazzocchi is still waiting for Geico to retrieve the car or, better yet, write a check.

“At this point, I’m not even sure if they want it back,” he said.

In the meantime, law enforcement is suggesting installing air tags in cars where thieves can’t find them.

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https://abc7ny.com/nj-stolen-cars-new-jersey-bergen-county/13387147/ Authorities track spike in valet auto thefts in Bergen County, New Jersey

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