PRINCETON — Police denied a report that they told a caller that there was no one available to respond to a car theft in progress on Sunday.

The thefts ended in tragedy when a 15-year-old driver of a stolen car crossed into the path of a car driven by Jodi Marcou, 61. Both the teen and the South Brunswick resident, who was a Rutgers administrator, died in the collision.

Planet Princeton reported that when a resident on Clover Lane called to report an attempted theft of two high-end sports cars they were told no one was available to immediately respond, and when police did respond it was 15 minutes later. The resident also called Mayor Mark Freda, who went to the house, according to the report.

"While the dispatcher was on the phone with the caller collecting pertinent information the second dispatcher was immediately sending patrol cars to the area. At no time did the dispatcher tell the caller that patrol cars were not available," the department said in a written statement.

Officers responded, set up a perimeter and begin looking for a stolen Range Rover within 4 minutes, police said.

A problem beyond Princeton

The department said the thefts are part of a statewide problem with unlocked cars being stolen including 10  vehicles parked at Princeton homes since August 1.

In Raritan Township, 48 cars were stolen in the early hours of Oct. 5 while Jackson police said were six vehicles stolen between Oct. 20 and Nov. 4 including a 2021 Range Rover valued at $120,000.

Princeton police repeated the advice of locking cars, removing valuables from vehicles, closing and locking garages and setting alarms.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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