HomeHaddonfield News'A noise in the middle of the night'

‘A noise in the middle of the night’

Borough residents seek answers on recent burglaries

Emily Liu/The Sun
A large number of residents expressed their concerns at a May 13 borough commissioners’ meeting.

A large group of residents came out for the May 13 Haddonfield commissioners meeting to push for more safety measures and transparency in policing after recent residential burglaries last month.

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“The one incident that really sparked this whole thing is on (Wednesday) April 3,” resident Chadd Levine reported, “where I believe it was four hooded gentlemen at 5 a.m. in the morning who crowbarred themselves into the front of a home while the family was actually there sleeping and forced entry, basically ransacked their way through the house, identified the keys and then stole their cars.” 

Levine is one of the five organizers of the resident group Haddonfield Safety Commission, which organized an April 24 town hall at a local brewery where six victims of recent crimes shared their stories and concerns with neighbors.

The group has three main goals: to improve communication between residents and the borough about crimes that are happening; increase police presence; and work more often with law enforcement and the borough, whether it be through fundraising for additional security or starting a neighborhood town watch.

The recent burglaries have left residents feeling unsettled, and many of them spoke out during the public comment section of the commissioners’ meeting. Some called for more policing and improved communication, and others expressed the feeling of being unsafe.

“When I hear a noise in the middle of the night, I should be able to go back to sleep. And I can’t,” said resident Mary Lovett.

Lovett is a social worker as well as a single mother of children with disabilities. To protect her family, she reported buying an “outrageously expensive security system that she could not afford” and rescued two guard dogs.

“My kids are on edge, their friends are on edge,” Lovett insisted. “This is impacting the entire town. It’s really permeating your town and we need to do something now.”

According to Haddonfield Police Chief Jason Cutler, there have been four residential burglaries so far in 2024, a number he described as “extremely low” compared with previous years. Two of them happened while residents were home and including the one that occurred on April 3.

Regarding residents’ requests for more information, Cutler noted that “we do not release information until we think it won’t hurt the integrity of the investigation.” Sometimes that means information is released within minutes, or it takes weeks or months.

According to the borough’s 2023 year-end safety report, motor vehicle theft was at an all-time high, with 14 vehicles reported stolen last year compared with three in 2014. The number of burglaries since that year has dropped from its peak of 75 in 2016 and 27 in 2023.

The best thing residents can do to assist officers, police say, is to be proactive about calling for help if they see something suspicious.

“A lot of people don’t want to bother us, but that’s our job,” Cutler explained. “It’s not a bother.”

He noted that it is easier to investigate something right away rather than a day later. The chief also emphasized that crime is not unique to Haddonfield, and that in spite of the recent incidents, the borough remains one of the safest places around.

“Crime is cyclical,” he pointed out. “You have some months where it’s high and some parts where it’s low, but within the past 10 years, we’re on a downslide. Last year, I think it was the least amount of burglaries in the 10-year period and we’re trending that way again this year for the first four months.”

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