Cops: Snow shovels used as N.J. home invasion decoy

Police in Cresskill, N.J. and neighboring Haworth are investigating a series of home invasions involving suspects who allegedly carry snow shovels as a decoy, to appear to fit in.
CBS New York

CRESSKILL, N.J. - This winter's snows are being exploited by some crafty thieves in northern New Jersey,  reports CBS New York.  The station says the crooks are toting snow shovels to try to fit in as they break into homes.

The suspects hit the home Iru Chen, 27, shares with her aunt and her grandmother in Cresskill, and another home a half a mile away during Monday morning’s snowstorm, police said.

“It appears that they were using the ruse of looking for work shoveling driveways,” Cresskill Police Det. John Birnie told the station.

Police said two white men wearing ski masks and carrying snow shovels went door to door, hoping to find no one home.

At one home, the suspects dropped a pillowcase containing jewelry when they realized a teenage girl was home, according to CBS New York. The suspects were still able to make off with a loaded gun, police said.

Chen said her house was visited by the thieves when she didn’t answer the doorbell.

“I heard a loud sound from the upstairs. My dog was barking so I went upstairs and the door was wide open,” said Chen. “The top of the moulding of the door was wide open, like kicked off. And it was wide open.”

“Very scared,” Chen told CBS New York. “I’m OK now.”

She saw no one, but could hear a car driving away. Detectives have a description of the van they’re looking for.

“A white van, older model, dirty looking van was seen in the vicinity,” Det. Birnie told CBS New York.

Police reportedly recovered one of the thieves' snow shovels, which they are processing for possible prints.

Police said that in addition to those two home invasions, another front door was forced open in the nearby town of Haworth.