Paying attention, leaving lights on, and communicating with authorities.
Those were some of the tips local and county law enforcement officials shared with about 200 residents at a special public meeting Saturday at regarding the recent rash of burglaries that have occurred in town. Representatives from the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office also attended the meeting.
Wayne Police Chief John Reardon said that officers and members of the have set up a special task force of uniformed and plainclothes officers to patrol areas where suspicious activity has been previously reported. Authorities are using marked and unmarked vehicles to patrol the areas.
“Vehicles you’d never believe are police cars are out there,” Sheriff Richard Berdnik said.
Police stressed the continual need for residents to immediately report suspicious activity.
“Don’t hesitate to call,” said Scott Rappaport, a Wayne resident and a member of the police department’s community policing unit. “The information that you provide us may be the one tip that prevents them from breaking into my home.”
The Wayne Police Department can be reached at 973-694-0600.
Rappaport said that there are three proactive measures residents can take to dissuade people form breaking into homes.
Decrease the chance that burglars choose a particular home to break into.
- Keeping lights, a television, radio, or another appliance on when on one is home is something authorities said is a simple step residents can take that will make a prospective burglar move onto a darker, quieter house.
- Lock doors, don’t leave windows open or unlocked, and arm alarm systems.
- Report any suspicious vehicles or individuals. Be on the lookout for vehicles in neighbors’ driveways that look like they don’t belong there, especially if the front of the vehicle faces the street. This makes it easier for burglars to flee from a property.
- Don’t let mail or newspapers pile up on in a mailbox or on a driveway.
“We need you to do [these things] on a year-round,” Rappaport said. “We need you to be proactive to protect our homes.”
- Don’t keep valuables in bedrooms or in typical places. Jewelry boxes on top of dressers, valuables in a sock drawer, or leaving a laptop, cell phone, or tablet out in plain view should be avoided.
“If we make it difficult for them, they’ll go to another house or to another neighborhood,” said Detective Sgt. Ed Akins with the sheriff’s office crime scene unit.
Akins said that phone lines have been cut in previous burglaries to try and prevent alarm systems from notifying authorities a home is being burglarized.
Authorities said that a popular way of gaining entry into a home or gathering information about who lives at a particular residence is through a scam.
An individual will ring a doorbell and strike up a conversation with a resident asking if someone lives there or if they would like repair work or maintenance performed on their house.
Reardon suggested taking note of these individuals, asking them for identification, and to report any suspicious individuals to police immediately.
Reardon also suggested installing motion lights outside and more landscape lighting on properties to deter would be burglars.
Jewelry, money, and electronics are not the only things burglars are looking for. They’re also searching for scrap metal, especially copper pipes.
A woman was charged with burglary after police said she in the Hoffman Grove section of town.
Jeff Mortman, a former Marine, has organized a neighborhood watch group to patrol Howe Avenue, Straten Drive, and other nearby streets. A few dozen people patrol the streets daily in shifts.
“It is going very well,” said Mortman, who regularly sends e-mail out to his neighbors about police activity in the area and other relevant topics regarding home safety. “People are getting to know their neighbors again. They wave to each other when they’re out. We could’ve turned a blind eye to each other but instead we’re helping each other out and it’s really great. We want to keep it going.”
The recent incidents occurred throughout the past seven weeks. Wayne Police initially between late April and the end of May. Several others have occurred since.
The incidents were, at first, concentrated in the lower Valley section of town, but eventually spread to other streets, including Ratzer and Alps Roads.
Two Hackensack men after a resident discovered them in his Fairfield Road home. Police searched for the men for hours after the initial incident; two other men eluded authorities.
The men used what Berdnik called a “drop-off” technique. The men reportedly entered the home while another man waited in a car outside the home.
People were home when a few of the attempted burglaries occurred in Wayne. No one was hurt in any of the incidents.