Passaic, NJ – Police Probe ‘Cat Burglar’ Break-Ins in Jewish Area


    Passaic, NJ – A cat burglar who has crept into about 10 city homes while people slept has sparked a neighborhood watch group and set off a police investigation into whether the incidents are related to similar break-ins in Clifton, police said.

    Someone has broken into 10 homes in the 3rd Ward and in the northwest part of the city since April 13, said Detective Andy White. Purses, wallets and laptop computers were taken in the burglaries, which occurred at night or during early-morning hours, sometimes two and three per night, White said.

    The last two occurred on Idaho Street either on Saturday night or early Sunday.

    White said intruders have entered through windows and unlocked doors in the Passaic burglaries.

    The break-ins are similar to four in Clifton that have occurred since April 15, and detectives are looking into whether they could have been committed by the same person. About 18 break-ins, including the cat burglaries, have occurred since mid-April. Police have stepped up patrols to address both, White said.

    No one has been hurt.

    The rash of burglaries has instilled fear in the Jewish community in Passaic’s 3rd Ward, sparking a neighborhood watch, said George Matyjewicz. He has been e-mailing community members to warn people to lock their doors and windows and to abate rumors that have been flying.

    “The big concern is at what point does it become violent?” he said. “There’s young children in some cases. There are single women, so it is scary.”

    Matyjewicz said victims have contacted him and that he’s tallied 14 cat burglaries since March.

    One woman was sleeping on the couch in her home when a burglar entered and took a laptop and cash from her purse. The woman remained on the couch until she was alone.

    “She did not get up, and when they left she started screaming,” Matyjewicz said.

    He has been sending out e-mail blasts that have been posted on a blog.

    Joshua Schwager of Passaic, acknowledging that police officers can’t be everywhere at once, said he is starting a neighborhood watch in the area.

    “Any police department is not going to spend all day trying to find every little thing,” Schwager said. “It’s an extension of the eyes and ears of the police department.”

    Schwager said the burglaries require an active response.

    City Council President Gary Schaer said the Passaic Police Department promised to increase patrols in the area that has been targeted.

    “I think human reaction is to be scared,” Schaer said. “Burglaries are invasive. My house was burglarized 25 years ago when we first moved into town. Some of those that have taken place are frightening.”

    Police in Clifton also are searching for a man who they believe has broken into four homes since April 15, startling the homeowner in the latest incident, authorities said.

    The man tried to sneak into a house on Madison Avenue just before 2 a.m. Thursday. The homeowner, a 45-year-old woman, was asleep on the couch, and scared away the burglar by screaming when she saw him halfway through her window, police said.

    Police urge residents to make sure their windows and doors are locked and to turn on their alarm systems. Investigators also ask victims not to confront a burglar.

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    1. Sounds like it’s time for the start of the Clifton/Passaic Shomrim. With community and police cooperation you will be amazed at how quickly this criminal will be caught.

    2. As usual the “frum” Passaic community leaders are doing nothing.

      The police are harassing the frum people who call them, instead of looking for the criminals.

      • This is why we need a Shomrim/neighborhood watch group (rather than the usual sitting back and complaining about how much the Passaic police/”community leaders” don’t do). We just have to watch out for ourselves instead of expecting others to do it for us. Lock ALL doors and windows, keep outside lights on, put snug-fitting pieces of wood in the track of sliding glass doors, and keep your car keys by your bed at night, so that you can set off your car alarm if you hear something.

      • I’m sorry but if they are the PD then they have to look for the criminals. It would be nice from the frum people to have a patrol group but they don’t have to have it. The police should stop harrasing. They have to do their work!!!

      • Maybe in the past, but not this time as the leaders have quickly come together and actually started the new initiative last Tuesday night. We have instituted a program that is working hand in hand with the local police.

    3. This is a serious problem. So serious, in fact, (according to rumors) that the PD may reduce by a full 10% the man-power devoted to catching mini-van driving car-pool moms who dare break the unposted speed limit on Broadway and use the man-power to deal with this matter.

      That is, if Gary can stop yapping long enough to actually get something done.

      • The breakins take place in middle of the night right smack in the middle of carpool time. Think before you comment. On another note Gary Schaer has done more for the Jewish communities of New Jersey than any other Jewish politician in any other state. Get your facts straight.

        The police admit they need help and are encouraging this Shomrim / Community patrol. Stop commenting on VIN and go do something tachlisdik.

        • “Stop commenting on VIN and go do something tachlisdik.”

          OK. You first.

          (BTW, which is it? The middle of the night, or right smack in the middle of carpool time?)

        • I do something tachlisdik every time Gary runs for re-election.

          I vote against him and anyone he supports.

          If you think he has done more for the Jewish community than anyone else you must be Gary himself.

          Donna doesn’t think so and his son is too busy writing tickets to the frum community to spend time on VIN.

          Why do you think Gary is so pro-PPD?

        • The police don’t need our help.

          Besides, how should we help them? Do they want us to write ourselves traffic tickets for every minor infraction?

    4. People that live alone or don’t have children in the house should go and register with the state for the “smith and wesson” protection system.
      Criminals would think twice if theyt knew they might encounter a bullet.

    5. There are currently three separate groups working on starting a patrol in Passaic!

      This whole fuss started when one group found out another group was working on a patrol. The second group started hyping the burglaries in order to start a scare so they can start their own patrol. The amount of burglaries are nothing new or unusual, it’s only that they are now being hyped.

      Then a third group who decided they can’t work with either group is also planning to start a patrol.

      I sense a machlokes coming up that will be even worse than the Hatzolah and Bikur Cholim machlokisin!

      Can you imagine? The two patrols in Crown Heights are fighting each other instead of crime. Imagine what the fights will be like in Passaic with three patrols!

      • Believe it or not, but the entire Passaic/Clifton Jewish community came together in 3 days to launch the new security initiative called the Shomrim Volunteer Guardians of Greater Passaic/Clifton. Thus, you can take your quotes about all of the negativity that is going to happen and stick them on something else. We have learned from our mistakes and unified all three stakeholders such that we have one name with a single unified purpose.

    6. The important thing is that Gary gets to keep both his government jobs besides his regular full time job. If the citizens of Passaic have to live in fear of burglers at night and the PD during the day, that’s OK. So long as Gary gets to collect his checks, make stupid announcements and mail out his ego-boosting fliers we don’t mind.

      Keep it up Gary, keep renewing the contracts of the municipal ‘court’ ‘judges’ who threaten to suspend the license of anyone who dares insist on a trial for a traffic ticket instead of paying thru the nose for a plea bargin.

      Keep running as the chain smoking, hard drinking representative of the frum community and keep threatening anyone who dares to run against you. We’ll keep taking it. We’re suckers.

      • Best comment ever, but 100% accurate! Gary Schaer has done NOTHING for us frum yidden in the 15 years he has been elected (although he did help another type of community vihamavin yovin).

        He only gets re-elected because of threats and fear-mongering. Hopefully this will finally wake up the citizens of Passaic for once and for all.

        • And because his buddy who runs the Passaic Jews news group won’t post anything anti-Gary or anti-PPD.

          Gary gets MF, Esq. to pull any story that reflects badly on the PPD.

        • What do you mean Gary has done nothing? He managed to get Passaic united. Passaic has never been so united, and it’s all thanks to Gary…

          …Gary managed to unite the Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Dominicans, Italians and non-frum Jews to all hate the Frum community. The chilul Hashem is massive.

          • The real unity Gary has brought has been to the Orthodox community.

            The only time I hear every Orthodox person in the room agree to one thing is when Gary’s name is mentioned.

        • I can’t comment on the past, but Gary is personally responsible for add a significant amount of police in the greater Passaic Park area that covers over 1,600 Orthodox houses. We have formally started, as of last Tuesday, a new security initiative called the Shomrim Volunteer Guardians of Greater Passaic/Clifton that is working hand in hand with the Passaic Police department. We are moving to Clifton next. What do you have to say know?

      • There’s no shortage of cops who “fundraise” giving us tickets for every petty traffic infraction. Maybe take cops off of “fundraising” and put them fighting real crim instead of fighting mothers who double park at carpool so they can safely walk their child into the car.

        But if they did that then how would the city pay for all the unnecessary jobs that were awarded for political favors.

      • You are destroying my city with your slander! If Gary Schaer has done nothing in 15 years, and ballots are secret, how does he keep getting elected?!
        Go back to Boro Park where you can be hefker chayos and have lights and sirens and cause mischief all you want!
        Gary is the most pro-Police politician in Passaic(his two government jobs are completely legal because he was grandfathered into the current law) and if you can’t keep to the speed limit on Broadway, 25mph clearly posted, then you deserve a ticket so you won’t run over my children! A large police presence is good for Passaic and if you think they are anti-Semites, apply for the job yourself!

        • First, you are a liar. Driving up Broadway from Main Street there is not one speed limit sign. If this were about our children’s safety the city would put up MORE signs, not less, and for a few thousand dollars they could buy a “Speed Limit 25 MPH” sign mounted over a blinking “Your Speed Is XX” sign.

          Second, I’m not from Brooklyn and I’ve been in town longer than the vast majority of you new comers.

          Third, I can’t get a job on the PD because those jobs are reserved for the daughter of the mayor, the son of the head of the city council and other deserving individuals.

          It sounds to me, Col, like you just hate anyone who’s yiddishkeit is apparent by more than a bumper sticker or stupid vanity license plate.

        • People vote for Gary Schaer because every election he scares all the good candidates away from running with threats, so the alternative is usually even worse than him, and because he fear mongers that without him the city would be anarchy.

          When was the last time a frum candidate aside from Gary and his two stooges ran? Not for as long as I can remember.

          Why every time there is an election coming up, a frum person aside from the 3 stooges says he’s running, and then he doesn’t run? I’ll tell you why, because Gary Schaer threatens them with terrible repercussions if they dare to run.

          • Chaim, if you are who I think you are, there is nothing to say to someone who steals money and a Shul. Second, I’ve been living in Passaic for 25 years and I always see the 25mph sign on Broadway, it’s just past Woodward heading toward Allwood. But, this is not the point. Chaim claims that Gary Schaer scares off possible candidates, but if you are the troublemaker Chaim that we all know about, since when are you scared of going up against incumbents? You seem to have no problem degrading the Rosh Yeshiva with you Hotzolah emails, and have no problem outbidding the Yeshiva Ktana for a building that you have no use for. Try to have a little self esteem and not drag your own name through the mud.

            • Chochom. That 25 MPH speed limit sign is in CLIFTON.

              And I doubt the Chaim of whom you are thinking would post under the name ‘Chaim’.

              And it isn’t the person who calls himself ‘Chaim’ who mentioned the lack of speed limit signs.

              And while I agree with you that there is no machlokes about the patrol and that the person who did all the things of which you accuse him is nothing but a trouble maker and worse, Gary is still just a self promoting hot air bag and we should all be ashamed that he claims to represent us.

            • The “big lie” was a Nazi propaganda technique, part of the premise of which is that if the leadership consistently blames all problems on one small group of people, it deflects any legitimate criticism from them, and unites the people in a common hatred of this small group of people.

              (This technique was originally laid out by Hitler Yemach Shemo in his book Mein Kampf, where he claims the Jews use this technique, but this technique was actually used by the Nazi’s against the Jews. It was this very technique that was able to get the vast majority of the German people so united behind Hitler Yemach Shemo.)

              Unfortunately, in Passaic, our leaders and those who follow them use the same technique. Everything that goes wrong and every problem is blamed on a small group of individuals, i.e. C.W. & crew, D.K. and crew etc. whether or not they actually had anything to do with it. This scapegoating deflects criticism from our leaders, since they just point their fingers at others.

              Baruch Hashem, I see (and hope) our community is finally waking up, and it appears that this technique may not be working any more.

            • Strange. I never heard anyone blame either of them for anything in which they hadn’t stuck themselves for the sake of machlolkes.

              I think DK is right about us in Passaic. We just aren’t worthy of having him amongst us. He’s just too good for us.

              There are many people ready, willing and able to help him pack up his personal vans (you know, the ones with the lights, sirens and EMS decals that he uses to go shopping) and point him in the direction of Brooklyn.

              And there would be few tears shed if the other baak machlokos gedolos went with him (as his own rosh yeshiva told him to do six years ago).

              In fact let them take the rav one of them brought to Passaic (with whom he had, surprise, a machlokes) too. Might as well clean house once and for all time.

            • You make a bunch of serious allegations which I say are false. Thus, I challenge you to prove me wrong and show evidence backing your trash talking. You won’t because you can’t. Thus, unless you can back it up your accusations, then perhaps you should look at yourself before you pop off about others.

      • You can stop your negative remarks about Gary as he has stepped up to the plate bigtime. As I wrote to one of your doom and gloom chavarim, believe it or not, but the entire Passaic/Clifton Jewish community came together in 3 days to launch the new security initiative called the Shomrim Volunteer Guardians of Greater Passaic/Clifton. Thus, what do you have to say for yourself now?

    7. Some one called tonight at 1050 pm from 4.. Brook ave of a suspicous car looking into houses. The individual even gave them the plate and they advised the person there’s nothing illegal about that. This is the problem the police don’t care to prevent the crimes, when we start voting in new leadership we will start getting the police to care!

      • You should have said it was a mini van driven by a frum woman dropping off kids in a car pool and she stopped more than 12 inches from the curb.

        You’d have had the anti-semite in the black Charger there with lights and sirens and a lecture from Gary about appreciating the police over-enforcing traffic regulations for our own good.

    8. Its about time the police spend time and effort in the areas that pay taxes. Why should all the illegals that don’t contribute to the tax base get police presence.there is a police officer on everyother block down broadway, thenb down main at around 3 when schools get out. Maybe the PD can reassign one of the 3 police officers stationes outside each school for the entire school day? Who is paying for all that? Downtown passaic, or passaic park?

    9. It could be worse. Remember the developmentally disabled guy who a cop beat the daylights out of on a street corner? And his partner who filed a worker’s comp claim that the guy had struck her? And the video that proved she stood there and watched the whole thing from 10 yards away?

    10. The police should take the same diligence and “hishtadlus” they put into harassing regular residents on Brook Ave (as one example) giving out ridiculous moving violations and put it into opening their eyes to the crime wave that has come here. This should embarrass the Passaic police department and the local frum members WE put on the board who seem to be powerless against such pettiness. All of a sudden, regular balei batim have become reckless drivers? That’s why we need our own shomrim. We are on our own.

      • Do you make a habit of being motzi laaz on entire communities of ehrlicher yiddin?

        This issue has nothing to do with machlokes and is being addressed in ways that are a credit to the achdus of the community.

          • Then you should open your eyes as starting last Tuesday, all of the different stakeholders in Passiac/Clifton stepped up to the plate and started a new security initiative called Shomrim Volunteer Guardians of Passaic/Clifton. We have learned from our mistakes and unified all three stakeholders such that we have one name with a single unified purpose. Therefore, it is time for you to start believing. We have effected CHANGE, not the Obama change for the bad that you can belive in, but CHANGE that is actually for the good.

        • The issue has nothing to do with machlokes until three separate factions decide to launch their own groups. Suddenly it’s all about machlokes, and a month from now they’ll still be arguing amongst themselves while we’re hiding laptops and baseball bats under our beds. The solution will be brought down that it is assur to have a laptop, and any extra money laying around must be entrusted to R’ H.

    11. Regarding the volunteer patrol, there had been one in Passaic that operated for many years in cooperation with the police dept. On one’s assigned night, one would pick up an illuminated, roof-top sign for the car and a walkie-talkie from the community coordinator and then check in with the patrolling officer at the start and end of one’s shift. There were typically two or three cars with a specific area to patrol operating on a given shift.

      For our own safety, we weren’t authorized to do anything but report “suspicious” activity to the patrolling officer, who would then conduct his own investigation before any action could authorized.

      The patrols were disbanded, I think, for lack of an adequate pool of volunteers (if I remember correctly, one had to commit to a 2-hour shift once every two weeks). Let’s hope this time around more people will want to participate.

    12. 3 Competing Passaic Patrols? Says: ? Where exactly do you get these “facts”?

      If anything people are fighting not to be in charge of Shomrim

      What we have is someone who stood up to the plate because no one else wanted to.

      We all know who has been posting as Anonymous bashing Gary, all it takes is a little google / Youtube search and you can see for yourself and pity the individual looking for the destruction of Gary. my crocidile tears are coming……….wait…………..Here it comes. The only machlokes is coming from a desperate person, who has an ax to grind when he doesn’t get his way!

    13. Keep a loaded firearm in your home (safe from the kids). It takes about a month to receive home/target shooting license in NJ. Jews being unarmed and unwilling to fight is the reason Jews are considered easy target by criminals.

    14. We had a major property issue that involved the city and county some time ago. It was Chaim Munk who stepped forward to help navigate all the red tape. Gary did not return our phone calls.

    15. So, did the 45 year old woman have a description of the burglar?

      I noticed a fellow in a car, jotting down notes in front of my house in Passaic Park. When I inquired as to what he was doing, he replied that he had made a delivery next door – then promptly drove away. Fishy.

    16. I have a hard time believing ‘the wind of change’ is anything more than the council speaker blowing hot air.

      I’ll believe it when I see a semblance of law in the municipal ‘courts’ run by ‘judges’ who can be replaced by the city council if it were interested in doing so.

      I’ll believe it when I see speed limit signs on the Passaic section of Broadway.

      I’ll believe it when I see ‘Child at play area’ signs instead of hidden radar gun$.

      I’ll believe it when I see a real effort to slow traffic in (a supposedly) high risk area by the western border of the park instead of money-generating radar traps.

        • The part of town that has been suffering for because our Council Speaker is too busy defending the PPD policy of treating minor traffic infractions as serious felonies and serious felonies like traffic infractions to take a breath and listen to anyone but himself.

          In other words, I live in Passaic.

          Perhaps if his son weren’t on the PPD he’d see things differently.

          • As you are as concerned about community security as much as I am, you must be very happy that there has been a very well thought out, proactive, and thorough initiative undertaken to help prevent burglars breaking into your house, as well as prevent general criminal activity in the community. A great deal of time energy and effort has been exhausted to put forth a plan that allows you and your family sleep well at night. We just finished our 4am shift. Fact is that since we started patrolling the streets on May 4th, there has only been one attempted break-in. As Gary has been intimately involved in getting the initiative off the ground, as well as keeping it moving foward, I hope that you are willing to give credit where credit is due and give it up to Gary.

      • We started a new organization named Volunteer Guardians of Greater Passaic/Clifton. Our first initiative is a Citizens On Patrol program that is aimed at helping local police do their job. We had our first patrol last Tuesday night. Tonight, we patrolled from 10pm to 4am.

        Since we started, there has been one significant arrest and only one attempted burglary which happened to a person that had his back door open. How much credit we can take with the reduction of the burglaries is unknown especially as the local police have added police at night. However, we think that we are making a significant dent in deterring crime in our community. We are currently focused on either deterring and/or catching the burglar (s.) After this goal is accomplished, we will determine what role we can and need to play to help secure the greater Passaic/Clifton community. I would like to hear what you think is needed in the community and how we should go about implementing it.

    17. As a new resident of Passaic I do not know the political games unique to a community so populated by Jewish presence. However, I am not new to or ignorant of the “system” in general set in place to protect of law-abiding citizens. Yes! Despite what you may have been hearing these past weeks in town-hall meetings or on the streets – the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the NJ State Penal Code was not written exclusively for the criminal. Start asking questions and do not stop until you get a clear direct answer.
      Demand a profile of these burglaries! (time of day or night, probable weapon, forced entry, age, race, etc.)
      Citizens should not “patrol” the streets at night, leaving their homes vulnerable to criminals inflicting terror on our community. Options? It’s time for us to take a very close look at our state laws, their enforcement and punishment as set out in print – not what is at the discretion of the boys who have the most marbles in the game. This is our basic right as citizens of this country. The police department works for the public. The officers are hired by appointed personnel of elected officials. Most important question you can ask: Are they doing their job?


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