TRENTON — A recent statewide sting operation found more than two dozen moving companies allegedly working without licenses in New Jersey — which authorities say puts people's valuables at risk, likely without them even knowing it.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said "Operation Mother's Attic" resulted in 29 movers being issued Notices of Violation and fined $2,500 each.

The movers were all identified during a four-day period in April, with investigators posing as people looking to move out of Montville, the AG's office said. Rather than finding customers at the home used for the sting, the unlicensed movers found representatives from the Office of Consumer Protection waiting for them, the AG's office said.

The sting operation also included the State Police Mobile Safety Freight Unit, which inspected the vehicle safety of the movers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was also part of the effort, ensuring that out-of-state movers were in compliance with regulations as well.

This year's Operation Mother's Attic also caught an alleged holdover from the last time such an operation was run, in 2016. Staten Island-based Go To Moving & Storage was issued a $5,000 fine as a repeat offender, according to Grewal.

"An unlicensed moving company can be a homeowner's worst nightmare," Grewal said. "They've been known to hold truckloads of property hostage until the customer pays an extortionate fee. And these unlicensed movers often don't carry adequate insurance, creating the risk that homeowners will be left high and dry if their property is serious damaged during the move."

Grewal said there more than 300 licensed movers in the state, and all licensed movers need to be accredited by the Division of Consumer Affairs. Movers also have to have cargo liability insurance, workers' comp insurance, and bodily injury and property damage insurance. Vehicles also have to be properly registered and insured and have their license number on the outside of their vehicle.

The movers cited as part of the operation included:

• ½ PRICE MOVERS, Staten Island, NY
• ALPHA MOVNG SERVICES , Highland Lakes, NJ
• AFFORDABLE & ASSERTIVE MOVING & STORAGE, Pompton Lakes, NJ
• AVELAR TRUCKING, Landing, NJ
• BIN IT NJ, North Bergen, NJ
• CENTURION MOVERS, Willow Grove, PA
• CONSIDER IT DONE, Toms River, NJ
• CRUZ MOVES, Cinnaminson, NJ
• ENTERPRISE VAN LINES, Congers, NY
• GDK LOGISTICS a/k/a GDK INTERNATIONAL, Fairfield, NJ
• H & D TRANSPORTATION, Clifton, NJ
• HELPING HANDS MOVING, Newark, NJ
• I.D. NOBLE MOVERS a/k/a NOBLE ID MOVERS, Hackensack, NJ
• IMPERIAL MOVING & STORAGE a/k/a LION’S DEN ENTERPRISES, a/k/a INSIGNIA MOVING, New York, NY
• J & L MOVING, Hillside, NJ
• LITE MOVING, Franklin Square, NY
• MOVING GOOD, Little Ferry, NJ
• MOVING HERO, Rahway, NJ
• OLD COUNTRY VAN LINES, East Newark, NJ
• PRINCETON MOVERS a/k/a GREAT EASTERN MOVERS, Brooklyn, NY
• RENT A HELPING HAND, Pennington, NJ
• MUNDANZAS, Dover, NJ
• ROADWAY MOVING, Elizabeth, NJ
• ROUND CITY MOVING, Garfield, NJ
• ROSIE’S MASTER MOVERS, Cherry Hill, NJ
• TB MOVING a/k/a TB MOVING & STORAGE, Brooklyn, NY
• WE MOVE YOU, Maywood, NJ
• BIG MEN IN TRUCKS, Sloatsburg, NY

Three companies were also cited for advertising violations, according to Grewal. Admiral Van Lines of Bayonne was also doing business as Hoboken Movers without the proper license to work under that name, he said. Hawthorne-based All Pro Moving was advertising itself as NJ Local Moving and One & Only Moving, while Direct Movers of Union City did not include a license number in its advertising, Grewal said.

The unlicensed movers can have their fines reduced to $1,250 if they apply for licenses within 30 days of receiving notices of violation.

Grewal said there are several steps consumers can take to hire a legitimate company,  including calling the Division of Consumer Affairs to ensure it is licensed. Customers are also encouraged to get a written estimate. People moving should not pack valuable items, including documents and jewelry, as the companies are "not responsible for items of extraordinary value," Grewal said.

Movers are only required to compensate customers "up to $1 per pound, per article," Grewal said.

Damage claims can be filed up to 90 days after a move, but customers are encouraged to check their items as they are being delivered. Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a scam or suspect consumer abuse can contact the Division of Consumer Affairs  at 1-800-242-5846 or go to the division's website.