Editorial-Feb. 23, 2006

Break-ins a wakeup call for residents

By: Mae Rhine
   The recent break-ins of houses on Clinton Street should be a wakeup call for all residents.
   Clinton Street residents are not only scared, but angry as well. They feel officials waited too long to tell them about the seven burglaries and more attempted burglaries that began Dec. 30 on the towpath side of their street.
   The scariest one involved a woman who surprised a burglar inside her house shortly after midnight Feb. 11. She warded off her attacker and escaped, physically uninjured.
   That day, police went door to door to let residents know what was happening on Clinton Street. Police say they have no suspects at this time, only a few "persons of interest."
   So residents of all neighborhoods should be talking to each other as well as police.
   Take a page from the book of Clinton Street residents, who have decided to work together to help each other. They met with police Saturday to ask questions and voice their concerns.
   As a result, some have bought alarm systems and more outdoor lighting, leaving those lights on whether or not they’re home. And they’re making sure doors and windows are locked, and those locks are working properly.
   Others are spreading the word by handing out fliers, not only on Clinton Street, but throughout the city.
   The burglaries are puzzling in that police say only several items are taken each time, leaving other valuables behind.
   And the burglar has gotten bolder. Despite setting off an alarm one night at one house, the intruder moved on to another one. And the house where the woman woke up to find the burglar inside had been broken into once before.
   During most of the break-ins, no one was home so police think the burglar is casing the area, looking to get in after residents leave.
   But whether or not the burglar is trying to avoid coming face to face with residents, police are concerned a serious assault could occur if the burglar is surprised again.
   So residents need to be ever alert. And Lambertville has a Town Watch program that should be involved as well.
   Gone are those days, even in a small town, when doors and windows can be left open and unlocked at all times.
   As Lambertville Police Director Bruce Cocuzza said, "We’re never going to return to those days. I’ve been saying it for years. There are thieves out there."