While window air-conditioning units keep rooms cool, but they also can give thieves an easy way to access homes.
Police in Morris Township and Madison have reported five break-ins in the past two months in which homes were entered by having window AC units pushed in, and similarities .
On Friday, the distributed a list with tips to prevent such crimes, including ways homeowners can secure their window AC units with items from the hardware store, and by installing alarms or at least making would-be burglars think the setup is alarmed.
The method of breaking in "is common but can easily be prevented," police said.
The full list of tips is reproduced below.
How to Secure AC Window Units
- Install an air conditioner bracket to the outside of the unit. The bracket not only supports the air conditioner, but it attaches to the bottom of the unit and the house, making it harder to move the air conditioner.
- Add a sliding window lock to each side of the window frame. Depending on the type, the locks are bolted or screwed in. They prevent burglars from sliding the window up and down. Attach the lock into the frame just above the window. Tighten it securely.
- Measure the length from the side of the unit to the wall. Purchase and attach a steel corner brace to each side of the air conditioner. Connect the other end to a secure section of the wall. Use screws or bolts to secure the brackets in place. This prevents thieves from pushing the air conditioner in or pulling it out.
- Install a small window sensor alarm. Magnetic controls set above the air conditioner will go off if the unit is moved or the window is opened. The high-pitched noise will alert anyone in the home and likely scare the burglar away.
- Consider attaching a warning sticker to the side of the unit stating there is an A/C alarm system installed, even if that is not the case.
At the end of July, about 50 Morris Township residents where Acting Chief John McGuinness and Patrolman Steve Summerer urged residents to report any suspicious activity, stressed the importance of having homes appear occupied even when residents are on vacation, and gave a possible profile of the suspect as a drug addict between the age of 17 and 20.
Since June 11, the "AC Bandit" has hit Morris Township homes on Gaston Road, Whitehead Road, Picatinny Road and Burnham Road, police said. The most recent reported burglary occurred in Madison on Elm Street. In that case, the burglar pushed in a unit on the first floor in daylight hours, on a side of the house not visible from the street, police said.
Anyone with information regarding the burglaries can contact the at 973-539-0777 or the Madison Police Department at 973-593-3000.