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Police Seek Tips, Offer Advice to Deter Burglars

Fair Lawn Police held a community forum with residents to address recent burglaries in the borough.

Fair Lawn Police are working to catch burglars and want residents to report anything suspicious. File photo.
Fair Lawn Police are working to catch burglars and want residents to report anything suspicious. File photo.
Fair Lawn Police held a community forum Thursday to address two strings of burglaries that hit the borough this summer.

First, there were 14 burglaries near the borough's borders with Hawthorne and Glen Rock in which a thief broke into homes through rear windows, according to Det. Lt. Michael Utell. More recently, burglars hit several homes in the area of Dewey Place and Essex Place near Morlot Avenue, he said.

Police believe there has been more than one burglar because of differences in how the crimes were committed, according to Utell. 

Fair Lawn Police have been working with the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office to investigate the burglaries and interviewed several suspects, but there's been little evidence and no arrests so far. Utell said that burglars have been getting smarter in how they commit the break-ins and are now more likely to take the stolen goods to a drug dealer or jitney bus driver instead of a pawn shop. About 200 burglars have been released from the Bergen County Jail in the past year, he said.

"They're coming out of jail better criminals," Utell said.

In an effort to catch the burglars, police have significantly beefed up their patrols, according to Capt. Robert Kneer. They also made lists of trees to be trimmed and street lights to be replaced or repaired to shine more light at night, in an effort to deter thieves.

Police are also asking residents who spot any unusual cars or people in their neighborhoods to report it. One of the suspects interviewed by police admitted to going door-to-door to 11 homes to ask for money. Nobody called the cops to report that incident, according to Utell.

Besides physical evidence, tips from residents are key to catching burglars, police said.

"We're hoping to have people help themselves," Sgt. Brian Metzler said. "It's a group effort. We need the extra sets of eyes sometimes."

To deter burglars, Metzler recommended residents lock their doors and windows, including second-floor windows. Cars, garages and sheds should also be kept locked.

Residents should also keep their bushes trimmed so windows are visible, have someone take their mail and newspapers while they're away on vacation, keep lights on both inside and outside of their home and keep cars in the driveway, if possible, to make it look like they're home, Metzler said.

He also recommended getting an alarm, motion detector, dog and/or camera as another deterrent.
Rob Ferguson September 16, 2013 at 02:48 PM
My car was broken into Christmas Eve. All the police office could do was shrug his shoulders. Sad state of affairs.
Irving Schlatter September 16, 2013 at 06:09 PM
I agree with the Sgt, keep those bushes trim!
Bruce Knuckle September 18, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Was my post removed from this story because of how accurately it painted the Lt and his comment condemning all jitney drivers?
SUMtingWONG September 20, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Bring back Detective Sergeant Messina. He would fix this problem in a snap. Between him and Sergeant Bastnick those burglars would not stand a chance. Two great cops.

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