April 2, 2014

Princeton Police Work With Area Departments To Investigate Recent Rash of Burglaries

The Princeton Police Department is working with other area police departments with respect to a “rash” of burglaries in Princeton. So far there have been six burglaries and one attempted burglary, confirmed Captain Nick Sutter, on Monday. 

During the past several weeks residential daytime burglaries have occurred in a number of homes in Princeton that were unoccupied at the time of the break-ins.

The recent arrest of a suspect in South Brunswick is not related to the Princeton break-ins, said Mr. Sutter, but the recent arrest of two suspects in West Windsor is being investigated for a Princeton connection.

On Friday, March 25, West Windsor police arrested two Ewing men, Colin C. McHugh, 28, and Michael D. Kopyscianski, 29. The suspects had been seen -running from a West Windsor home with their arms loaded with stolen property. A call to police alerted nearby officers and the suspects’ red Honda was spotted on Washington Road and signaled to stop. Thereafter, both men attempted to flee on foot. Officers gave chase and the suspects were caught and subsequently charged. When police impounded and searched their vehicle, they found property that had been stolen from two West Windsor homes burglarized earlier that day.

Police also recovered evidence that suggested the pair had conducted multiple burglaries throughout the Mercer and Somerset county area. A press release from the West Windsor police department stated that when the suspects’ residence in Ewing was searched on Sunday, March 27, more suspected stolen property was recovered, some of which has since been identified by detectives from as far away as Branchburg. The investigation is continuing.

On Monday, Mr. Sutter said that there may be some connection between these suspects and the Princeton burglaries, but as yet the investigation remains ongoing.

According to Mr. Sutter, it is not unusual to have a number of burglaries occurring over a short space of time. “That’s the way it usually goes with burglaries, which are often perpetrated by one individual.”

In response to such cases, it is customary for the police in West Windsor, South Brunswick, Lawrence, Montgomery and Hopewell to pool their resources. “We talk with our colleagues on a daily basis,” said Mr. Sutter.

On Tuesday, Sgt. Steven Riccitello confirmed that PPD was looking into the possibility of a link between the two West Windsor suspects and burglaries in Princeton. He pointed out, that there had been no Princeton burglaries during the past week.

Anti-Burglary Tips

In a statement, the community was asked for support and assistance as it continues with its investigations and advised to “call immediately to report any suspicious vehicle(s) and/or person(s) in your neighborhood.” If possible, get a description of any suspect or vehicle (including a license plate) and the direction of travel, so as to advise responding officers.

Residents are also advised to notify the police immediately of any unknown person knocking on the front door. “Be aware that the knocking on a front door is a means to determine whether or not a house is occupied. Some common excuses used by a burglary suspect(s) who are looking to see if a house is occupied are: ‘I’m looking for (insert name of person), and ‘Do you know where (insert street) is located?’ They also may insinuate that they are looking for a lost pet, or pretend to be a door-to-door salesman,” according to the statement. “If there is no answer, the suspect(s) will generally walk to the back of the house and use unlocked doors/windows to gain entry. If none are found, windows and doors have been forced open. Jewelry and silver are generally targeted.

The department also suggests several ways in which residents can help the police in their attempts to recover stolen property: by providing digital photos of valuables, by always turning on alarm systems, and by presenting signs of occupation such as a car parked in the driveway, or a radio or TV left on inside, practices that often prevent homes being targeted at least during daytime.

Any suspicious activity should be immediately reported to your local police department, or in the event of an emergency for an incident in progress, call 9-1-1.

Police Exercises 

On Tuesday, the PPD took advantage of the vacant hospital building of the former University Medical Center at Princeton at 253 Witherspoon Street not far from its headquarters on Valley Road, to conduct training exercises. All officers in the department will have an opportunity to train inside the building during the exercises, which will continue on Thursday, April 3. “We try to keep our officers sharp with regular training sessions that are ongoing and with scenario training such as this on an annual basis,” said Mr. Riccitello.

Passersby won’t see much action, however, apart from several police cars at the site. All of the training will be inside the building. “The vacant building fits our purposes for exercises in tactics and training in critical incident response,” said Mr. Sutter.