Hardyston police chief, detective address safety concerns at council meeting

HARDYSTON. The remarks were partly inspired by two recent burglaries around the Crystal Springs area.

| 02 Aug 2022 | 11:59

Hardyston Police Chief Scott Lobban and Detective William Varcadipane, III, addressed safety concerns and questions at the July 27 Hardyston Township Council meeting,

Chief Lobban explained that there was a concern from the community about safety and discussed recent incidents that occurred in the Crystal Springs area. “We wanted to tell you what was really going on versus what everyone is hearing and calling on,” Lobban said. He assured everyone at the meeting that if there was a real serious problem, the police would let the public know.

Lobban explained that they had two burglaries in the Crystal Springs area. One happened in May and the other burglary happened in July. Lobban noted that there were a lot of rumors of home invasions happening in the area, which are not true; there were no residents reporting home invasions. Lobban said, “We are like a hometown department and some of you may not be native to this area, and I don’t know what the departments were like from your area, but please call us at any time. Call dispatch and ask for an officer.”

He added that the dispatch may not be up to date on certain issues going on in the town. “Call for myself, ask for Scott, Lieutenant Nick Calandra, or call for Detective Bill Varcadipane, III.” Lobban said that since these two burglaries have occurred, Calandra has had increased patrol in Indian Fields, Crystal Springs, and all of the community areas.

Lobban said the police department does cover a lot of ground, which is around 33 square miles. The police department gets there as fast as they can. Lobban said that they are looking to do community outreach. If residents of the communities want to reach out to their Homeowners Association, they can contact the police department. “Detective Varcadipane does a fantastic presentation not only on safety, but what you need to do with your houses and also discusses fraud; and we all know that fraud is a big thing right now; especially targeting the elderly,” Lobban explained.

Detective Varcadipane discussed the two incidents that occurred near the Crystal Springs area. Varcadipane said the two burglaries he responded to were unoccupied by the residents at the time of the burglaries and the two burglaries did not appear to be related. “The biggest thing so far that we are running into are the lack of cameras in the neighborhood. Stuff that we can utilize to further our investigations.” Varcadipane went on to say that they are leaving these neighborhoods after cases come in and the detectives are unable to get any sort of video, not even from neighbors. Varcadipane suggested purchasing cameras for residents, which are being sold cheaper and some are suction cup-mounted for windows. It would help the police in investigations and would also provide peace of mind for the homeowners.

As of August 2, Varcadipane confirmed that the burglars have not yet been caught, but the investigation is ongoing.

Community interaction

At the meeting, Varcadipane addressed rumors going around that cars are driving through the neighborhoods at night casing the homes. “If that is happening, no one has reported it to us.” Varcadipane said it appears to be a rumor that started online and the police department is completely unaware of this going on at this time. Varcadipane said they have officers going into these neighborhoods an hour at a time at night. The officers go through every road and identify suspicious individuals and suspicious cars. The police are not seeing any suspicious individuals or cars at this time and it is only rumors and no substantial facts to prove otherwise.

Varcadipane explained that in the recent weeks he’s had discussions with residents, and some of them were concerned about using online servers to store video. “There’s a lot of cameras that you can store locally on micro-SD cards. You can put the card right into the camera and access it from your phone.” Varcadipane said regarding privacy concerns about people’s information being taken, it is not being stored on a server.

Chief Lobban suggested some precautions that everyone can take to improve their safety. “Locking your cars, taking the key fobs out, locking the doors to your homes, and putting a stick in the slider doors.” Lobban described burglaries in Indian Fields that occurred some years ago, and he said that the individual who was caught doing the burglaries allegedly said the houses he would avoid were the ones with sticks in the sliding doors.

Lieutenant Calandra mentioned that the police department is on the Neighbors app. The app allows users to discuss crime and public safety issues with their local community anonymously. Varcadipane explained that the department can post when something happens, looking for video; and people on the app can respond and give the police department permission to access the video that they want the police to see. The police do not have access to the videos automatically; the residents would have to share the video with the department and that would be considered an agreement to review the video. Anyone that has a ring doorbell is automatically in that app. If the resident does not have a ring doorbell, they can also download the Neighbors app and use it without having any of the Ring products.

A resident had asked Lobban and Varcadipane if they ever put this information on Facebook and Varcadipane said from time to time they do. “It has been a very valuable tool for us.”

Chief Lobban and Varcadipane added that the safety tips they discussed at the meeting will be posted on the Hardyston Township Police Department Facebook page.

A resident from Indian Fields told the chief that “you guys are fantastic; you come through the neighborhood frequently.” The resident also said that he believes the fire department should get paid during the month of December because his children and everyone in the neighborhood absolutely love the Santa Claus train that comes driving through.

The Council and everyone present thanked Lobban, Varcadipane and the entire police department for their service and keeping the community safe.