The Township Committee has asked residents to remain vigilant after there has been a string of house burglaries.
“The police department requests that all citizens remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity,” Committeeman Gary Quinn said. “Look out for your neighbors. Everybody’s got to try and play their part.”
Since Sept. 7 there have been 14 residential burglaries. Although arrests have been made, most of the incidents remain under investigation, Quinn said.
The burglaries are primarily occurring in the Forked River section of town during the daytime when homes are vacant, he said. Entry has been gained into unlocked homes as well as forcible entry into secure homes.
Approximately two years ago, Laurel Boulevard was hit with many burglaries, Quinn said. Arrests were made because residents assisted.
“We don’t want anyone getting involved themselves,” he said, advising residents to simply utilize cell phones, cameras and write down license plate numbers. “Don’t go further than that.”
Statistics show that burglaries rise once kids go back to school due to the vacant homes, Quinn said.
“Most of these are younger people who are dealing with drug issues and they go in and ransack homes looking for anything,” he said.
Quinn's comments resonated with Mary Jesuele of Forked River.
On Sept. 15, she returned to her home following a work day to find that her it had been entered, she said at the Committee meeting Thursday. Approximately $1,700 worth of items was stolen from her home.
The police officer that responded to her house had told her that there were three other burglaries in the area before her house was hit, she said.
“What upsets me, if I would have been told that or made aware of that, going to work I think I would have closed my windows,” she said. “I think we need to be made aware that these robberies are happening.”
Jesuele moved to Lacey from North Jersey to get away from crime, following two experiences, she said.
“I think something has to be done. Nothing against the police department here,” she said, describing the officers as “wonderful.”
“I think instead of having police officers sit at the Walmart or sit at the Wawa that I work at for parking or waiting for something to happen, I think the streets need to be patrolled more.”
Mayor Mark Dykoff said he would recommend doing a Reverse 911 call to the neighborhoods that are being targeted. Reverse 911 is a public safety communications system used to notify residents in emergency situations.
“Something has to happen,” Jesuele said. “For these dirtbags to break into my home and everybody else’s homes that work very, very hard and to steal their stuff and then go to pawn shops and do whatever they want to do with it, we need to do something.”
Although, Jesuele made a point to say that Fast Cash, located in Forked River, has been getting a bad reputation due to the recent burglaries, in her experience the shop is “on the up and up.”
The township actually has very strict permits for pawnshops such as Fast Cash and the police oversee them, Township Administrator and Municipal Clerk Veronica Laureigh said.
Quinn added that the shop is required to have cameras.
“So we know what’s going in and out of that pawn shop,” he said.
The Committee is looking into hiring more police officers, Quinn said. But at this time, the township cannot afford to do so.
“We know we need more police officers... Even at that, that’s not a necessary fix because these people are very, very sly,” he said. “The best possible tool we have is you and your neighbors throughout town looking out for each other.”
Committeeman David Most asked residents not to wait for the Reverse 911 call before locking their doors and windows.
“This is really sad because when I was brought up in Lacey Township, all the doors were open. You never worried about locking your car or rolling up your windows. Unfortunately we live in those times now,” he said.
Most apologized to those who have become victims.
“I would feel very violated as well. Lock your doors and windows,” he said. “Don’t make it easy.”
If you see anything suspicious in your neighborhood, dial 9-1-1 immediately. The Lacey Township Police Department can also be reached at (609) 693-6636.
Burglary Prevention Tips:
- Make your home appear occupied—leave lights on when you go out.
- Make it difficult to break in—lock all doors and windows before leaving home or going to sleep; keep your garage door closed and locked.
- Don’t allow mail and newspapers to build up while you’re away. Arrange for the Post Office to hold your mail and a neighbor to collect your newspapers.
- Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are away for an extended period of time.
- Special locks are available for better security—sliding glass doors and pushbutton locks or doorknobs are vulnerable.
- Don’t tempt a thief—store valuable items out of sight, use curtains, etc.
For more tips on burglary prevention, other precautions that should be taken, and what to do if your home has been broken into, click here.