A Maple Avenue convenience store was burglarized overnight Saturday for the second time since February, police said, making it the latest victim in a line of strip mall smash-and-grabs this year.
Just before 2 a.m. Sunday, Fair Lawn police responded to a burglar alarm at the E-Z Ship & Shop, located only steps from the Glen Rock border, to find the store's front glass door smashed and items scattered about the check-out counter.
With help from the county's K-9 unit, officers established a perimeter around the area but were unable to locate the perp, police said.
The store's manager, who said the burglar made off with between 15 and 20 packs of cigarettes and a few electric cigarettes, estimated the loss at $300.
He said the convenience store suffered a similar smash-and-grab burglary in the early morning hours of Feb. 25, in which the perpetrator used a large rock to partially break the glass door before reaching through to open it from the inside. In Sunday's incident, the object used to break the door's glass was not recovered.
In the February break-in, the manager said the burglar, in his haste to escape, left behind a glove and cigarettes at the scene.
An employee at the bagel store next door who said his baker witnessed the February escape after hearing a noise and coming outside, reported that the burglar sped away in a red Ford pickup truck.
There were no witnesses to Sunday's break-in, and E-Z Ship & Shop does not have surveillance cameras, the store manager said. Going forward, he said he plans to install at least six security cameras -- four inside and two outside.
Earlier this year, Fair Lawn experienced a string of smash-and-grab burglaries that police attributed to a lone criminal who is suspected in over 100 such break-ins across North Jersey. The break-ins died down over the summer, but in recent months neighboring Glen Rock and Saddle Brook have experienced their own share of smash-and-grabs. It is not clear, however, whether Sunday's incident is connected to any of the prior smash-and-grabs in the area, police said.
Ridgewood-Glen Rock editor James Kleimann contributed to this report.