Union Blames West Orange Crime Spike On Police Layoffs

WEST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Residents are locking their cars and homes. Neighborhood break-ins and burglaries have skyrocketed in just the last two months.

Peter Strumolo and his wife were among the victims. One of their two BMWs was left unlocked and personal items inside were taken. The suspects were able to get into the second vehicle using keys.

“They got into this vehicle, and we’re assuming they got the keys out of this vehicle to drive the other vehicle off the premises, because we are missing one set of keys to the second vehicle,” Strumolo told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

West Orange police confirmed a dramatic spike in crime since April 1. There has been a total of 97 attempted and actual home break-ins and stolen cars — many through unlocked doors.

That statistic contrasts with much smaller numbers for the same crimes during the same two months last year.

“You reduce the police department basically by 25 percent, it’s going to reduce our effectiveness,” said Michael Cassidy of the West Orange PBA.

Cassidy blames the crime spike on budget cuts and layoffs. Eight officers were let go as of March 15 — two weeks before the uptick in crime.

Police Chief James Abbott said there was no question numbers were up, but argued they may stem from the down economy and steady unemployment.

“No police chief or union official for that matter has a crystal ball to say that if you lay off cops, crime is going to go up. I don’t think that’s a fair statement to make to the people. I think its a scare tactic,” Abbott said.

That point could be evidenced in other communities around West Orange also reporting similar increases in crimes. However, the police union said those communities have also seen layoffs.

“There’s 3,000 less officers in the state of New Jersey right now…it’s hurting us,” Cassidy said.

Tami Strumolo said her second BMW still hasn’t been found, and the one that was recovered was never dusted for fingerprints in a neighborhood that many say used to be safe.

“It took 10 days, at least 10 days to get the police report back which is unheard of,” she said, adding the community was “unfortunately not as safe as we thought.”

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Strumolo

    “Smart” – I’ll be praying for you tomorrow morning. Only our maker gets away with judements.

  • Patti

    Who in the right mind would leave a BMW (SUV) with the keys in it, and unlocked? You are looking to get it stolen? Then you come back and blame the cops? Also the Mrs. needs to deal with the real world. In just about any town in the state, if you have a car accident, minimum time to get the police rept back is 5 days. Boo hoo, you had to wait. I live in Maplewood and had my home burglarized by some punks from Irvington, all minors. Cops caught one the next day about 3 blocks from my home. He cop’d a plea, even though he had lot’s of stuff in the backpack he had from my home, and didn’t have to roll on the other 3 that were with him. Cops finger printed my entire home. Perks ransacked the house from attic to basement, but no fingerprints were lifted. Folks, it’s not like CSI, it’s real life. Our legislatures are to blame because they don’t have stiff enough laws for the cops and the Prosecutors office to work with. These kids stole and did more than $20,000. damage to our home. It was in broad daylight, and they broke down a door with a deadbolt lock right off it’s hinges. Six of my neighbors spoke to them while they trolled the neighborhood looking for an empty house. No one called the cops. Folks my sugggestions are: Don’t leave stuff in your car, and lock it and set the alarm. If you don’t have an alarm, put one in and use it.

    • Strumolo

      People make mistakes. It doesnt mean that my family deserved to be violated. And regarding the police report, I’m not wealthy and couldn’t get reimbursed from my insurance company without it.

      • Pete

        Lol… not wealthy? I suppose multiple BMWs are being handed out at birth now?… And no one DESERVES to be violated, but you should EXPECT to be violated if you leave your home or vehicle unlocked in this day and age. Oh, and p.s., you live near Orange, East Orange, Irvington, and Newark. And you’re shocked that crime is spreading during down economic times?

  • Mr. Morality

    The Strumolo’s are dumb enough to leave their keys in the car. Common sense.

    Plus the type of savages that live in the West Orange area you should be prepared.

    • Strumolo

      Everyone makes mistakes, it does give anyone the right to commit a crime against them.

  • maxx

    The problem isn’t the police layoffs, the problem is the “Ghetto Trash” just waiting for an oppurtunity to commit crimes! That’s the real problem all over this Country, “Ghetto Trash” being the animals that they are, generation after generation.

  • Joke

    There is no way a spike in crime has a direct link to less police. They are just trying to make a case to bring back the cops who are sitting at home crying because they cant find a “cake” job like the one they had.

  • RichieT

    It’s classic. Cut the police, and the schools. Protection from crime, the future of this country. Cut back the number in the government, or their salaries” Not chance.

  • chaca

    yeah it’s the laid off cops stealing

  • macullough

    You leave a BMW unlocked with keys inside? You deserve everything you got for being so stupid.

    • Strumolo

      My family and I DID NOT deserve to be violated in our own home! And the keys were from our other car, so it was an honest mistake.

      • Smart

        Everyone watch the video…its even better….we get to see what the idiot couple looks like….its 2011 you thought West Orange New Jersey was a safe area….HA!

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