By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Maplewood police say the one positive to come out of the uptick in burglaries is that the incidents combined with the added media coverage has led to increased public awareness and a willingness to contact authorities.
Police Chief Robert J. Cimino pointed to an example of that from last week. A Baldwin Road man called police after confronting three males who had trespassed on his property Nov. 12 at noon, authorities said.
Police said they were able to locate the suspects, interview them and determine they intended to burglarize the home. All three were arrested and charged with criminal attempt burglary, conspiracy and criminal trespassing.
“We want people involved. We want people to be attentive,” Sgt. Dean Naddeo said to about a dozen residents at a community meeting on Nov. 16 at police headquarters on Springfield Avenue.
Cimino stressed that the police are making inroads in combating the burglaries. He said the department reviews crime statistics weekly. That information, combined with intelligence they get from other police agencies, is used to tailor patrol strategies.
Though authorities did not have a running total of burglaries, they said they are working with police agencies in neighboring towns.
Cimino said the offenders police are encountering run the gamut from those with prior arrests to youths with no criminal record. In the Baldwin Road case, two of those arrested were 15-year-old boys from Maplewood. They were turned over to their parents, while the third person, 20-year-old James Jean of Union, was taken to the Essex County Correctional Facility.
In his comments at the community meeting, Naddeo said burglaries have occurred at different times of the day. He said police continuously make arrests and have increased their investigation of suspicious activity.
Police also are engaging the public. On Nov. 16, the department had its third community meeting, a seminar where officers discuss crime prevention techniques and answer questions from the audience.
“It was interesting. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Chad Hunt, who recently moved to town, after Tuesday’s event.
Cimino said police are seeing some increase in interest by residents to form neighborhood watches.
Ellen Seidman, who also attended Tuesday’s event, said she started one three years ago after a home burglary on her block in the Golf Island neighborhood. She was disappointed with the attendance at the meeting.
“People need to care. I wish more people came tonight,” she said.
Cimino said residents interested in forming a neighborhood watch should contact Sgt. John Tutunjian, who heads the department’s crime prevention unit at 762-3400, ext. 7620.