MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Thanks to the investigation of Maplewood police, Jamar Canton, 23, was finally brought to justice last week for breaking into 25 vehicles in the township.

Lately there has been an increasing number of nightly auto thefts and burglary, and in an effort to communicate with the public about what the police department is doing and educate residents on staying safe, Police Chief Robert Cimino attended the recent monthly public meeting hosted by the Hilton Neighborhood Association.

Carol Buchanan, president of the NHA opened the meeting and introduced the chief to the audience of approximately thirty people, including Mayor Victor DeLuca.

Sign Up for E-News

Cimino first addressed the Canton case and elaborated on how it was easy for Canton to get into most of the cars because the doors were unlocked. Among the most common things stolen are navigation systems and iPods, Cimino said. He advised drivers to always lock their doors and not leave anything of value in their cars.

Cimino also recommended that residents purchase motion sensor lights to install at all entryways to their homes to help deter home burglaries, something else that’s been on the rise in the township.  The chief said if the car doors are unlocked, burglars may think they have a chance to get into the home as well.

“Help us help you,” Cimino said. He emphasized that anyone who sees anything suspicious should always call the police. For example, if a person sees someone unfamiliar or acting suspiciously in a neighbor’s yard, he or she should call the police.

However, he added, not everyone is guilty and that the police should be called only if the resident feels unsafe.

In addition to home and car burglaries, there have been a number of incidents of bank fraud in Maplewood. A woman in the audience said she is a prime example of such a fraud. Someone got access to her bank account and she now can’t use the account while the bank is investigating.

Cimino pointed out that fraud can even be done from other countries. While Maplewood police don’t have jurisdiction in such cases, he reminded the audience to keep personal information such as Social Security numbers in a safe place, and to be cautious when putting personal information online.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions. Resident Candice Davenport expressed her concern for the children in her neighborhood. She said she is concerned about the many drivers who speed past her block. She said she would like to see the city place a speed limit sign on the block, especially with summer coming and more children playing outside. Cimino suggested having a police officer patrol the block more often.

After the meeting, Cimino told The Alternative Press he enjoys speaking at such meetings and events because he feels it is important to stay in touch with the residents so they understand what’s going on in the township.