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Victim of attempted robbery in New Jersey left unable to call for help. Here's why

Police in New Jersey investigating attempted robbery involving Wi-Fi jammer
Police in New Jersey investigating attempted robbery involving Wi-Fi jammer 01:46

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Police in Florham Park, New Jersey are warning residents about robbers who may be using Wi-Fi jammers to stop victims from using their phones to call for help.

Florham Park Police investigating attempted robbery involving Wi-Fi jammer

Police say around 11:30 a.m. Monday, a Florham Park resident was in his basement when he heard a loud noise coming from the ground floor. When he checked the video from his home surveillance cameras, he saw a stranger trying to enter his home.

According to police, the man's camera system and his cell phone then lost service.

Police believe the suspect was using a Wi-Fi jammer -- a device that's about the size of a smartphone that makes signal-using devices useless.

Police say the suspect fled, and the victim, who was still unable to use his phone, ran outside and flagged down a pedestrian, who helped him call 911. Officers arrived quickly, but police say the suspect was already gone.

"The time that it took for that individual, for the victim, to get out of his house, and to flag a passerby down and tell him to call the police was enough time for the person to leave that area," Florham Park Police Lt. Brian Ford said.

Wi-Fi jammers can even block signals out of police walkie talkies, home alarm systems and surveillance cameras connected through Wi-Fi. They're illegal under federal law, and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy introduced legislation earlier this year to criminalize them on the state level.

"Every time I see something like this, I'm like, 'Wow, I need my law to pass,' because it's about giving the resources to the law enforcement to be able to do what they have to do. And I never want to see any more stories like this," Murphy said.

In a statement, Florham Park Police Chief Joseph Orlando said, "While Wi-Fi jamming devices are not new to the criminal underworld, it is the first we have seen or heard of such devices being utilized in Morris County."

No arrests have been made.

Police issue warning about "South American Theft Group"

The Florham Park Police Department is potentially linking that incident to thieves known as the "South American Theft Group."

According to police, they usually work in groups of three and are known to put hidden cameras in landscaping to track potential victims' routines.

Police recommend changing up your routine if you can, checking for and reporting any suspicious devices and cars in and around your property, and even getting hardwired surveillance cameras and landline phones.

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