SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (CBS 2) – Police in one New Jersey community are warning residents to be extra cautious after a recent rise in burglaries.
Over the past month, nighttime bandits have hit six homes in South Orange, all along East Clark.
Police say the burglars are targeting secluded backyards, using first floor windows, placing something underneath to get in, cutting screens and in some cases using windows that are already open.
The bandits gave one homeowner the fright of her life. The resident only wanted to go by the name "Lisa" on-air and told CBS 2 that they came in through a window that she thought had its latches on.
Thieves broke into her home in the middle of the night as she and her family slept, CBS 2's Christine Sloan reports. When asked what the thought could have happened, Lisa said she thinks about it all the time.
"We could have been dead. They could have gone upstairs—hurt one of us. They could have hurt one of our children," she said.
The thieves only took electronics and jewelry though.
"They took my pocket book, my son's gym bag and dumped it right here," Lisa said.
South Orange Police Capt. Kyle Kroll said victims should take precaution when their homes are invaded.
"They shouldn't encounter these individuals. They should call 911 and get us to the house right then," Kroll said.
Police have stepped up patrols and sent out notices warning residents to keep their windows locked and to install security systems.
Lisa has since updated with her security company, which she says has gotten a lot of calls from local residents.
Resident George Anthony blames the economy for the recent rash of break-ins.
"It's not just right here. It's all over harder times making for more desperate times," Anthony said.
Rev. William Rutherford, whose South Orange home was broken into several years ago, agrees and said that burglars are becoming more brazen.
"I think it's because of the economic times we're seeing people look for anything they can just to survive," Rutherford said.
Police are warning residents to immediately call them if they see any suspicious activity.
Police believe the nighttime break-ins are being committed by one group of suspects. In one instance, they left behind a bicycle that police are examining for evidence.
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