NEWARK —  Police are looking for whoever stole an Amazon van and three dozen packages Thursday afternoon.

The running van was stolen from South Orange Avenue and Howard Street around 5:40 p.m. and recovered on Barclay Street just over an hour later, according to Newark Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara. Approximately 35 packages and the driver’s personal belongings were missing.

Vehicles left running are easy to steal

The theft of a running vehicle is part of the ongoing problem of vehicles behind left running or with their key fobs inside. Car thefts are up 31% so far this year compared to the same time in 2021, according to State Police Superintendent Pat Callahan.

O'Hara told ABC 7 Eyewitness News that many of those vehicles are stolen elsewhere and left in Newark. But he believes if insurance companies stopped replacing cars when owners were careless the number of stolen cars would drop.

"This is an opportunity people are creating and we can not get people's attention to stop and change their behavior. Simply lock their cars and shut it off," O'Hara told ABC 7 Eyewitness News.

O'Hara also believes that juveniles who steal vehicles are emboldened by criminal justice reforms that will release them quickly from jail.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

2022 Seaside Heights Polar Bear Plunge photos

More than 6,000 people took the plunge into the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 26, 2022 to raise more than $2 million for the Special Olympics New Jersey.

NJ malls aren't what they used to be

Dennis Malloy pays a visit to one of his local malls, only to find its a shell of its former self.

Where everyone knows your name: Friendliest bars in NJ