One year ago, authorities at the Jersey Shore were dealing with bank robberies, almost one on a daily basis. Before that, copper wire was disappearing from construction sites and the thieves were attempting to cash it in for scrap.

Recently, there’s been a rise in petty thefts, home break-ins and small robberies. It has many scratching their heads while law enforcement agencies scramble to stop them.

The banks have moved to tip jars being taken from restaurants and businesses, homes are being invaded in broad daylight – even change in your car’s ashtray. Many are concerned. What is the reason for this? We are starting to hear this almost weekly now – someone was held up in a parking lot, a vehicle was broken into. Is there a pattern the cops need to look into?

Dr. Robert Louden is a Professor and Program Director of Criminal Justice at Georgian Court University in Lakewood. Before that, he was a Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and had been a Detective Lieutenant in the NYPD’s Hostage Negotiation Team. Louden says the number of these petty thefts is alarming but not surprising.

Louden says “there are a number of things at work here. You can blame the economy on one hand and then the sense of entitlement many criminals feel. They think they are above the law and that’s where they run into trouble. They’re targeting these so-called easy grabs because it gives them the things they want but don’t have – and it’s usually not need items like food for their kids or family. It’s mostly luxury items.”

Louden explains the public has also been way too lax. He says “many forget to lock their homes and vehicles. That leaves it open for trouble right away. Some people are either so preoccupied that they don’t realize it. Others are a little too trusting for their own good.”

A major problem for police departments in the Garden State right now lies with budgetary issues and layoffs. Some departments find themselves understaffed or being forced to trim through layoffs or attrition. Louden does applaud Ocean County authorities for being able to combine forces when necessary.

Louden urges everyone to be extra careful. He says to always lock your homes and vehicles, and like with the anti-terrorism campaign, if you see something, say something!