Recent crime and mischief in Bayonne have some residents concerned and looking for solutions. According to the Bayonne Police Department, on Halloween, a group of more than 100 teenage trick-or-treatersallegedly ventured into Bayonne from Jersey City to cause mischief, resulting in no arrests, but many broken eggs and some broken car windshields. Also on Halloween, according to the BPD, a 13-year-old girl was allegedly assaulted at a light rail station by aBayonne assailant.
Later that week, according to the BPD, an investigation into an October 17 fight in Bergen Point turned up a handgun, a used shell casing, and a bullet fragment from a nearby wall. Initial reports of shots being fired were unconfirmed until the conclusion of the investigation. Third-degree riot charges were brought against nine people, in addition to drug and weapons charges from that night.
These headlines come amid a surge in car break-ins. Safety concerns among some residents are growing.
“This area has always been a safe place,” said Tom Leiver, 40, of midtown Bayonne, a neighborhood where car break-ins are becoming more common. “Hopefully this is just a hiccup. People will realize there’s nothing to gain from fighting and stealing.”
Others are not so worried. “I don’t believe the hype,” said Tanya McCann, 34, of 5th Street in Bergen Point, around the corner from the apartment complex and basketball courts where the fight allegedly took place.
The Bayonne Police Department has issued letters recommending residents keep car doors locked, and pledges to use foot patrols when necessary, and request NJ Transit Police increase fare enforcement on the Hudson Bergen Light Rail during specific times. Some residents have cited fare enforcement as one way to deter crimes like those that occurred on Halloween.
“If kids don’t have a ticket, they’re not showing up in town,” said resident and Board of Education candidate Sharma Montgomery, who, along with other Bayonne residents, is planning to attend a NJ Transit public meeting to request more fare enforcement at certain times, such as Halloween.
“I had so many kids coming by my house with so many cute costumes,” Montgomery said.“It was a nice evening that ended up in a bad place.”
“I had so many kids coming by my house with so many cute costumes. It was a nice evening that ended up in a bad place.” – Sharma Montgomery
Mischief or crime
The gap between teenage vandalism and mischief on Halloween and adults fighting, stealing, and using weapons is a large one. Halloween mischief is likely as old as Halloween itself.
“I remember years ago, when I worked the streets, all day on Halloween and the night before it was mischief night. There would be 20, 30, 40 reports of damage,” said Bayonne Public Safety Director Robert Kubert. “But mischief night seems to have petered out and now it’s Halloween.”
One of the city’s biggest crime problems when Kubert was police chief in the early 2000s wastheft on the light rail, like purses and bicycles.
“That was the first thing I did was put officers on the light rail. They got the message and stopped doing it,” said Kubert, who said the Bayonne Police Department plans to continue coordinating with NJ Transit to target areas and times for increased enforcement.
The BPD has increased unmarked patrol cars and arrested several people for attempted break-ins.
The good news is that overall violent crime is down in Bayonne, according to recently released NJ State Police Uniform Crime Reporting data.However, crimes like aggravated assaults (without a weapon); forcible entries (such as car break-ins); and motor vehicle theft are up from January to August of this year compared to the same period last year.
“Crime being down is a national and statewide trend,” Kubert said. “Property crimes, the nonviolent crimes, are up. And here, like everywhere else, we have car break-ins.”
Like he’s been saying for a year, “You need to lock your doors. You make it more difficult for the crime to be committed, it becomes less likely that crime is committed in the future,” he said. “It’s so easy now you just press a button on your remote. I don’t see what’s so hard about it.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at email@example.com.