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Burglary Spree Leaves Residents On Edge In Northern N.J.

MAHWAH, N.J. (CBS 2) -- Residents were on edge in upscale areas of northern New Jersey and southern New York, as cunning burglars ransacked ritzy homes in an elaborate crime spree.

Police said the thieves were cutting phone lines, bypassing security systems and breaking down doors, even sneaking into bedrooms to get their hands on very pricy possessions, reports CBS 2's Sean Hennessey.

Houman Firoozi was the latest victim. His bureau still had fingerprint dust on it after his home was ransacked Tuesday night. The thieves even went through his closet.

"I guess they probably broke into the wall to see if there was a safe," Firoozi said.

Once inside the home, the thieves went straight to the master bedroom. They grabbed a pillow case and went to the closet to fill things up, emptying the jewelry boxes of Firoozi's mother.

Homes in Mahwah, Sparta, Vernon, Ridgewood and Franklin Lakes in New Jersey, and Orangetown in New York, were all hit by thieves with the same M.O. After making sure no one is home, they break down the door, cutting phone lines and disabling alarms.

"They can expect a police response probably within three to four minutes, so they're in and out of the house in a short period of time," Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli said.

The group sweeps through the homes in minutes, targeting bedrooms where cash and valuables are often kept.

"It's pretty scary knowing there are people watching you, waiting for the opportunity to possibly break in and rob you," Mahwah resident Tom Potenza said.

Mahwah police said they have a surveillance picture of one of the thieves, and the boot prints of another.

Police stressed that residents should be cautious, and asked that if they see something, they say something.

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