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.
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.