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Fair Lawn Burglaries, Larcenies Up 50 Percent This Year

March was one of the worst recent months on record for burglaries and larcenies in Fair Lawn

The number of burglaries in Fair Lawn, which were already at a nine-year high in 2011, have continued to rise through the first three months of 2012.

The town's burglary rate, , is up by another 50 percent through March this year, according to monthly Uniform Crime Data provided by the . If burglaries continue at their current clip, Fair Lawn will experience its first year with more than 100 burglaries since 2002 -- more than triple the number of burglaries that it had just three years ago.

Due to the increase in daytime burglaries, in late February urging residents to take greater care to maintain the security of their homes and vehicles.

Thus far, the warning to residents appears to have fallen on deaf ears. March ended up being one of the worst months for Fair Lawn burglaries in the last decade.

Police have attributed the rise in burglaries and other types of theft -- robberies in Fair Lawn have also doubled since 2009 and larcenies are up 54 percent since last year -- to the sagging economy.

"I think a lot of it probably weighs heavily on the economy and the unemployment rate," Sgt. Richard Schultz said, adding that there are likely a combination of factors.

New Jersey's unseasonably warm weather this year is another possible factor. For decades, some researchers have tied warmer weather to increased crime rates, and according to an NJ.com report, last month tied for the warmest March on record in New Jersey history.

Officers have also raised the possibility that criminals have grown more brazen due to Fair Lawn's , which is currently operating with 55 officers and . A 2009 study found that based on its population, Fair Lawn should have 73 police officers to align with average police force levels in Bergen County.

Despite the low force levels, however, Fair Lawn’s overall crime rate reached decade-low levels in 2010, even while burglaries spiked.

Crime data for April isn't yet available, but Schultz said he doesn't believe burglaries have slowed, citing a number of ongoing burglary investigations within the department.

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Click here to find UCR data from 1990 to 2010 

Click here for more info on the Uniform Crime Reporting Methodology

For the first three months of each year:

2011 2012 % Change Burglaries 12 18 +50% Larceny 50 77 +54% Total Index Crimes 117 135 +15% Total Clearance Rate 38.5% 41.4% +7.5%

For a full breakdown of the last six years of Fair Lawn's UCR data:

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012* Murder 0 0 0 0 0  0 Rape 2 0 1 1 1  2 Robbery 7 9 6 9 18 2 Burglary 62 45 35 58 73  18 Larceny 319 292 309 289 295  77 Motor Vehicle Theft 15 16 16 13 13  3

*2012 crime statistics are through March.

The Most Interesting Man in the World April 13, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Zak, both circumstances are a tragedy, however that is an important distinction as far as a public danger.
Zak Koeske April 13, 2012 at 08:03 PM
@Most Interesting - The comparison made in this story was between the first quarter of 2011 vs. the first quarter of 2012 (+50% burglaries, +54% larcenies), because as you note, extrapolating the rest of 2012 from the first three months of the year wouldn't account for the fact that crime rates change by the season. The conventional, albeit sometimes challenged, wisdom is that crime rates are higher when its warm out (summer time), therefore someone with that mindset would expect crime to increase over the next few months. I only have the monthly breakdown of crime in Fair Lawn for 2011 and 2012, but if that's any indication, the heat trend held true last year. Reported crime rose in the summer months last year and remained heavy through the fall before tailing off a bit in the winter. While there are all sorts of possible explanations for the increase in crime numbers, I don't agree that they're meaningless.
The Most Interesting Man in the World April 13, 2012 at 09:49 PM
@Zak, I agree that crime is not meaningless, just the accounting and definition gets a little dubious. Given the stats rape plumeted in 2008 and went up 100% in 2012. Relatively speaking, there is very little crime in town, so a small increase in numbers is magnified in percentage. The vast majority of crime is petty and residents and visitors should exercise reasonable caution like locking your car and windows at night and there is no reason to live in fear.
Zak Koeske April 16, 2012 at 03:07 AM
@Most Interesting - I agree that it would be disingenuous to write a story saying "Rape has doubled this year," because, while it may be true, as you point out, the number of incidences is so low that a doubling or a 50% reduction or whatever it might be, paints an inaccurate picture of the situation. Writing a story like that would be bating residents and I wouldn't do that. In the case of burglaries, there is legitimate cause for concern. They've been increasing steadily each for year the past three years and there are enough of them that saying they've doubled in the past two years is not a misleading statistic, in my opinion. Residents are free to make up their own mind as to whether a rise in burglaries will affect their behavior or sense of safety in town. Personally, I feel safe living in town, but I still believe the numbers, being what they are, warrant news coverage.
The Most Interesting Man in the World April 16, 2012 at 01:58 PM
@ Zak, I understand it is news and you highlighted the parts the FL residents would have most concern over, which is larceny, burglaries and robberies, which mostly has to do with taking property. The numbers are the numbers. To your credit you did not speak to the violent crime aspect. However, look at the reaction, everything from concern over rape to taking up arms. You could hire a policeman to stand on every every corner, but it would not do as much as being responsible enough to lock your doors and windows at night, lock your bike and lock your car and you will probably never be a victim of crime in FL. I like the idea of being free to make up my mind given the facts, which is an excellent point.

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