WYCKOFF, N.J. – With consistently warmer weather come more home burglaries – and in Bergen and Passaic counties it's no different, police said.
Wyckoff, for instance, has had a boost in break-ins and attempts lately, primarily in the Sicomac area of town.
“We have increased our patrols in both marked and unmarked vehicles, increasing visibility in residential neighborhoods,” Police Chief David Murphy said Wednesday.
What’s more, the chief said his officers point out where and how residents can better secure their property and “conduct door-to-door canvasses after a burglary report to try to gain any information that may help in our investigations.”
Statistics show that barely 14% of burglars are ever caught. Decrease that by the number who have sold or successfully hidden stolen valuables – such as jewelry, guns, sliver and electronics -- and you have some idea what scant chance there is for retrieving them.
The good news: There are steps everyone can take to avoid becoming statistic.
Part of it is understanding that burglars always take the path of least resistance so they can avoid having to spend much time or risk being seen.
They look for soft targets — those that don’t have obvious signs of security, of course, but also those that are obscured by trees and other objects. They will then spend no more than a minute trying to get in. If they can’t, they’ll move on. If they can, they’re out of the house inside of 90 seconds.
Three-quarters of those who do get in have broken a window, jimmied a door, or forced an entrance open.
That’s why police urge:
• Make sure all doors and windows are secure, especially in back. That includes the garage. Use window stops (you can always pop them out when you’re home on a comfortable day). Stick a steel rod, broomstick, or dowel inside a sliding door channel;
• Clear windows and doors of any bushes, trees or shrubs so that you, your neighbors — and, if necessary, police — can see them;
• Deadbolts are a no-brainer, but only if the screws are at least a couple of inches long. Otherwise, even Justin Bieber could kick your door in;
• If you don’t have motion detector lighting outside, get it. If you do, make sure it’s working properly. Don’t put it close enough to the ground that someone could unscrew the bulb;
• away ladders, other types of boosters or tools lying around the outside of the house;
• Set lights, televisions and radios on timers;
• Don’t keep valuables in obvious places: The first, and sometimes only, destination of any burglar is the master bedroom;
• Inventory your valuables with photos or videos, put the disc in a safe place — and make sure you use an innocuous label (“Billy’s Birthday” will do just fine). It could help police but also comes in handy when you notify your insurance company;
• Don’t hide a key. Give it to a trusted friend, neighbor or family member;
• Lock your car, even when it’s in your driveway, and don’t keep valuables in plain view inside. This is one that confounds police: A majority of incidents involve expensive electronics and other items left in UNLOCKED vehicles.
• Don’t leave a car running unoccupied, no matter where you are.
One of the most tried-and-true burglar deterrents has four legs — and it’s not your coffee table. That's not only because of a possible attack: A burglar doesn’t want to spend time or be noticed.
If you’re going away for a vacation:
• Arrange with a neighbor to take in newspapers and mail or have delivery services suspended;
• Notify police headquarters to put your home on the vacant list; they‘ll be sure to drive by now and then.
One you might not have considered:
Some burglars use social networking sites to determine when a home will be empty. Announcing your day's activities gives them a calendar.
If you want to share out-of-the-house events, police say, do it at the end of the day.
And by all means, DO NOT announce your vacation plans.
Another key reminder: Make sure your house number can be seen clearly from the street at any time of day, just in case you need police, fire or ambulance service.
And call police immediately if you see anything suspicious or out of the ordinary in your neighborhood. They’d rather go on lots of calls that don’t amount to anything than not be notified and keep a burglar in business.
Finally: If you’ve just been burglarized and are still outside, don’t go in there. Dial 911 immediately.
Many times the first instinct is to enter and check for pets or missing items. Not only do you not want a confrontation -- entering your home before the police do could compromise valuable evidence.