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January  11

Sitting Ducks on Montclair Ave

Residents of Montclair Ave. in Montclair are jittery these days because of a recent rash of break-ins and attempted break-ins, which started around New Year's Eve. A tipster writes:

i think it's seven break-ins/attemps in 8 days. three last night and then four right around nyeve. it's like we're sitting ducks. do any of these burglars ever get caught?

No return call yet from the Montclair Police Department, but we'll let you know if they illuminate the story.

January 11, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink


They got me on Essex Ave 12th December. I also received a reverse-911 call Tuesday afternoon advising residents that items have recently been stolen from cars in our area.

One-by-one reports (or "7 on Montclair Ave in last 8 days") are not much help. Montclair PD should be mapping incidents, sharing more information with people living in the area. Montclair PD can't do much about it, but giving people better information about the scope of the problem would help.

Here's a useful link:


Posted by: MikeM | Jan 11, 2006 12:41:03 PM

You might consider setting up a community watch. The police can't be everywhere all the time. If nothing else you'll get people aware of the problem and maybe someone will see something that helps catch the bad guys. If they are dumb enough to repeatedly come back to the same small area then they will probably get caught eventually.

Posted by: State Street Pete | Jan 11, 2006 12:54:10 PM

Community/neighborhood watch is often promoted by police. I challenge anyone to produce any evidence documenting the effectiveness of such things in reducing crime. They tend to be promoted by police because it sounds good and deflects some of the heat.

Police don't need to be everywhere all the time. They need to be in locations selected by analyzing crime data. This is different from sitting around waiting for the next incident, then suggesting people do a neighborhood watch.

Montclair PD is not very good at learning things and acting accordingly.


Posted by: MikeM | Jan 11, 2006 1:24:30 PM

There is an article in todays Star Ledger - Essex county section page 19 - about the same problem in Nutley. The local towns PD's are working together on the theory that the same people are hitting all the towns.


and this is from Friday


Posted by: hrhppg | Jan 11, 2006 1:51:13 PM

There were 12 break-ins on Christopher St. the night before last... police all up and down the street all day long. Dodd St. was also hit. Seems to be going around.

Posted by: Kristin | Jan 11, 2006 2:14:40 PM

MikeM, I agree that it is often just fluff, but in this case it might actually work. What have you got to lose? No matter how good the police might be there's no way they can drive around and around your neighborhood.

Posted by: State Street Pete | Jan 11, 2006 2:35:07 PM

I dunno -- the "Sierra Club" has been knocking on our door the past couple of nights. Think there's any connection between these earnest-seeming, scruffy-looking youngsters and the outbreak of break-ins?

Posted by: genuine thing | Jan 11, 2006 9:03:48 PM

"do any of these burglars ever get caught?"

The problem isn't that they don't get caught because they do. The problem is they let them out way too soon and they go right back to work.

Posted by: stealth | Jan 11, 2006 9:49:45 PM

Here's some grist for the mill:

At last night's Town Council meeting, Police Chief Sabagh & his assistant made a presentation in support of the proposed false alarm ordinance for home & business security systems in Montclair. Their research yielded the almost surreal statistic that of the 9,000 alarm calls that MPD responded to in the years 2004 & 2005, only five (5!) were actual burglaries or emergencies.

My mind is still agog at such an exponential preponderence of false alarms. Interestingly, the alarm companies apparently bear no legal responsibility or accountability for this incredible situation.

Posted by: Greg Spinelli | Jan 11, 2006 11:36:39 PM

Genuine - I used to be one of those scruffy tree huggers, and when they are going door to door they should be with a group, but working two people on a block or an area. They should also have some type of ID and the group leader should have a permit of some kind from the town allowing them to solicit. If you aren't sure if they are legit or not ask to see the ID, real tree huggers won’t be upset by this but people casing out houses will be.

Also, anyone here watch “It Takes A Thief” on discovery channel – 2 ex-burglars showing people how burglars target houses, and what they look for. 5pm on discovery, very weird and interesting show.

Posted by: hrhppg | Jan 12, 2006 9:01:29 AM


How could the alarm companies "bear some responsibility" ? I have heard that their ESP-false alarm detectors are on the fritz.

Posted by: Right of Center™ (8T) | Jan 12, 2006 9:07:49 AM

My husband and I have become addicted to "It Takes a Thief" and "Cash Cab" after that at 6:00. A nice break from the usual "Seinfeld" with dinner.

Anyway, the two former burglars in "Thief" have made us evaluate our house and even by a new lock for one of our windows.

Now that the rash of burglaries seems to be growing into a suburban Essex epidemic, I'm glad I flipped to Discovery Channel a few weeks ago!

Posted by: Bloomfield Alice | Jan 12, 2006 9:20:31 AM


I think that they are making a bad assumption by only quoting the rate of "actual burglaries". Burglar alarms scare off burglars- preventing burglaries - did they have a statistic for that?

ie: How many burglaries were prevented by burglar alarms - rather than reporting these as "false alarms".

Posted by: badd_patti | Jan 12, 2006 9:29:57 AM

Right you are when it comes to the one-time or occasional false alarm address. What I failed to mention is that they stated that there are a large handful of mostly commercial addresses that account for a disproportionate number of the false alarms. In this case I believe that the alarm companies should contribute in some way to the remedial process.

Right as well. I was dying for someone to pose that question. I had a group of Boy Scouts in tow & we left before the presentation concluded - so I don't know if anyone asked about this.

Posted by: Greg Spinelli | Jan 12, 2006 1:48:00 PM

I am glad that badd_patti, as usual, gives us real world facts to work with. MPD says 5 out of 9000 alarms were NOT false. That's less than one tenth of a percent. And I'd guess these 5 were commercial, not residential, installations.

The research on burglar alarms is not very reassuring. Read this from a policing journal and you might not even believe the Montclair low number:


If the "false alarm" problem is limited to only a handful of locations, why not work with them to solve the problem?

And how about false alarms that are called in by people? If my 78 year old next door neighbor thinks she heard something rattling around her trash cans and calls the police, and they find a couple of cats fighting instead of an attempted break in, is she going to get a summons and/or threat of jail for "false alarm?"

How about false fire alarms?

This new scheme is going to make us money? Want to bet? Remember, EZ Pass was going to pay for itself and make money on the toll violators, and how much did we pay for that, half a billion?

I wonder how adopting other anti-burlary measures rate, such as locking doors and windows at night, bars on basement windows, etc. I'll bet they turn away more burglars than an alarm!

Posted by: cary | Jan 12, 2006 2:13:51 PM

What amazes me though is when reading the local rag or the Ledger, whatever... the incredible number of break ins that are obviously the result of entering an unlocked door. In a recent police blotter, 3 of the 4 stories were situations where someone waltzed into an open door, took the laptop, cellphone, wallet, or similar first-glance items and took off. Are people that dumb?
The unlocked cars or the cars with valuables left sitting in plain site baffle me just as much.

Posted by: drob | Jan 12, 2006 4:48:12 PM

I don't know if this is relevant, but last weekend I looked out the window, and noticed a suspicious car driving all the way down christopher st. It paused in front of every house for about 5 seconds. The driver appeared to be writing something down at each house. It was a dark colored, recent model vw passat. Anyone else see this?

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