A standing room crowd angry about a wave of home invasions targeting Indian residents demanded more police and neighborhood surveillance cameras at a public safety forum in Edison Wednesday night.
Residents say the armed robberies have occurred for a decade timed around the Hindu holiday of Diwali, when gold jewelry is frequently given as a gift.
Police suggested that residents store their valuables in bank safe deposit boxes when not in use during the holiday, The Home News Tribune reported.
"Something has to be done," said Chintan Trivedi, an Edison resident since 1984. "We need to feel safe."
The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office would not allow officials to discuss four recent home invasion robberies in Edison, South Plainfield and Old Bridge. Asian-Indian residents were restrained and homes ransacked. No arrests have been made.
Police Chief Thomas Bryan said his department has given a similar crime prevention presentation three times since 2007 and that residents haven't taken the suggestions, including forming a neighborhood watch.
"You are our eyes and ears. We need your help," he said, adding that the recent robberies are more a crime of opportunity rather than a hate or bias crime.
He said that a task force of Edison, South Plainfield, and Old Bridge police, along with detectives from the Middlesex County prosecutor's office, state police and the FBI are working on the case.
"I want this to be a message to anyone who wants to come to Edison Township and commit crimes against our community," Bryan said. "I will capture you and use all my resources to bring you to justice."