UNION COUNTY—With startling frequency a band of criminals have been burglarizing homes in a number of western Union County municipalities, the authorities said.
It is believed that between Nov. 25, 2008 and Aug. 6, 2009, the group has been responsible for at least 27 burglaries and two attempted burglaries, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.
Most of the burglaries have occurred between 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. when homeowners are away and the burglars are believed to spend less than five minutes at each location, but nonetheless have made off with a considerable amount of jewelry and cash.
The majority of the burglaries in Union County have occurred in Berkeley Heights, where 16 have been reported since last November. Westfield, Mountainside and Springfield have also reported similar thefts. The Prosecutor’s Office is grateful for the assistance from the Mountainside Police Department and Chief James Debbie in gathering intelligence on the burglaries.
“The suspects likely ring the doorbell to see if anyone comes to the door,” said Romankow. “ In some cases, when someone answered, the would be burglars made up an excuse that they were looking for someone else and had come to the house in error.”
Authorities remind residents that suspicious behavior, no matter how trivial it may seem, should be reported to their local authorities immediately and, when possible, to copy any license plate numbers or distinguishing details from suspicious people in their neighborhoods.
The burglars act with precision, targeting only rooms where expensive jewelry would be kept. In the few cases where alarm systems were activated, the burglars were gone from the scene by the time police arrived.
Romankow is urging all residents in Union County, especially those who live in municipalities that boarder Rt. 78, to be vigilant and to immediately report any suspicious vehicles or persons to the municipal police departments.
“Like most criminals, we expect they will be caught,” said Romankow. “Law enforcement is asking for help from the public. Residents who see anything suspicious should immediately call the police.”
Additionally, Union County Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for the arrest and indictments for the people responsible for these burglaries. All calls are kept anonymous and confidential, officials said. Crimestoppers may be reached at 1-908-654-TIPS.
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