Police Expand Night Patrols to Deal with Burglary Problem

Fair Lawn's burglary rate has more than doubled since 2009, prompting the borough's police department to take action.

Fair Lawn’s recent surge in burglaries has pushed the to take concerted action in an attempt to curb the frequency of break-ins.

Starting last weekend, the department began deploying additional patrolmen overnight in recently affected areas.

"As the result of the increased commercial burglaries occurring over the midnight hours, we took a proactive initiative and put some plainclothes officers and plainclothes detectives out overnight with the direct mission of just looking for nothing else but suspicious activity related to burglaries," Detective Lt. Michael Uttel said. "Most were occurring over the weekend, so that’s when we directed our manpower."

Uttel said that because police have been handling more commercial than residential burglaries this year, the department's focus has turned more toward preventing commercial jobs, which typically are committed overnight.

Home burglaries, on the other hand, occur more frequently during the day when residents leave their homes for work.

Even with added patrol, Uttel acknowledged that solving any type of burglary is hit-or-miss. Although detectives have been fortunate to clear a number of recent home burglaries, oftentimes, solving a break-in hinges on an eyewitness tip from a vigilant neighbor or commercial surveillance footage.

"Burglaries are one of the more difficult crimes to solve," Uttel said. "A lot of times there's no physical evidence, no witnesses and no leads. We got lucky on lot of these recent burglaries with alert residents or video surveillance equipment."

Even when police have been successful apprehendinging recent burglary suspects, Uttel said it's tough to keep them behind bars.

"The both posted bond and are out already," he said. "It’s a revolving door."

After decreasing steadily from 2002 to 2009, .

By the end of 2011, annual burglaries had reached a nine-year high, more than doubling since their decade-low count in 2009. Through the first three months of 2012, .

Explanations for the increase in burglaries provided by law enforcement officials have ranged from the depressed economy to the .

And Uttel said Fair Lawn is not alone in seeing its burglary rate rise.

"There's been a drastic increase in both [commercial and home burglaries] throughout Bergen County," he said. "Now's just a perfect storm of the economy and the lack of police manpower."

Uttel said he believes Fair Lawn's recent uptick in overnight commercial burglaries is the result of burglars seeking the path of least resistance.

"Burglaries are normally non-confrontational," he said. "I think that it's more opportunistic for the bad guy."

Uttel said he suspects burglars are targeting commercial establishments because many lack alarm or security systems, are unoccupied overnight and are more likely to be located in isolated areas where the chances of being spotted are reduced.

While , Detective Peter Yuskaitis said burglars have historically struck all over Fair Lawn.

“We’ve done jobs in the middle of town,” he said. “There’s no specific target point.”

Yuskaitis said the burglary suspects they’ve apprehended are a mix of career burglars and others without a criminal history.

Although he’s only worked in the detective bureau for a couple years, he said he’s recently noticed an increase in the percentage of first-time burglars.

“In the past, there were probably more career burglars,” he said. “But with the economy, it’s out of desperation now, a lot of it.”

Uttel said the breakdown of career burglars to first-timers in town has historically been about 60-40 in favor of career burglars.

To minimize the chance your home or business is burglarized, police recommend installing an alarm system, which they said usually scares burglars and minimizes the problem even if one does make entry.

In late February, the .


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delgado April 20, 2012 at 12:12 AM
The Deputy Chief of Staff to Kathe Donovan/Fair Lawn Mayor Baratta and the BCIA Commissioner/County Adminstrator for Donovan/Deputy Mayor Trewinski (and Barattas boss) said they would lower crime and cut taxes.....
LENNY April 20, 2012 at 01:43 PM
and we are off again. one side attacks the other side 24 7 election war. to all of you forget the party lines everyone lets work together for the good of our town. run on how you all worked together and made our town better . by the end of the day on this site one will attack the other again again. lets all work together , better our town .
pl April 20, 2012 at 02:14 PM
im all for more patrol- but i thought i read most of these burglaries were occuring during the day when people were at work
Mike Pena April 20, 2012 at 02:59 PM
The residential breakdowns need to be addressed we need patrols during the day!
Zak Koeske April 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM
@pl - There have been more burglaries both during the day and at night. However, most of the recent home burglaries have been cleared. There are currently a number of open commercial night burglaries, so the emphasis -- for now, at least -- has been placed on addressing those.


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