CLIFTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police are warning Clifton residents to take precautions after a spate of home burglaries.

As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, police say there were 40 burglaries in December, a big spike over a typical month in a city where the property crime rate is 45 percent below the national average.

Pat Schuckman said she had sometimes left her door unlocked when she brings her daughter to work — but not after the home of one of her neighbors on Harding Avenue was burglarized twice in one week.

“You have to take extra precaution,” Schuckman said. “When you’re just running out, you have to lock the door now.”

Police say burglars are prying open windows and doors or taking advantage of homes left unlocked.

Neighboring Montclair has also experienced a recent rash of burglary attempts. Three houses were targeted by thieves in a span of three hours Monday, police said. At two of the locations, the burglars tried to gain entry by prying open a door.

Experts say, to avoid being victimized, use a home security system and lights on timers.

“Have multiple timers on multiple lights at different intervals,” said Dan Coleman, a home security expert. “Having the home looked lived in or occupied is going to send them to another home.”

Clifton police are also suggesting that valuables inside the home be hidden or secured and are asking residents to be on the lookout for unusual activity.”

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