Statement Regarding Community Concerns


The Hillsdale Police Department is committed to learning all of the facts that revolve around the recent media coverage relating to thefts and vandalism of “Black Lives Matter” lawn signs, as well as other acts of mischief. Hillsdale remains a beautiful safe community and we will not let our neighborhoods be terrorized by would-be thieves. Given the importance and emotional nature of these incidents and investigations, we wish to issue the following statement:

Based on our own records, we have the following information to share: The total number of “Black Lives Matters” signs that were reported stolen to the Hillsdale Police Department is six (6), and two (2) additional signs were defaced. There were three (3) reported incidents of harassment related to the signs displayed at two (2) residences in July. This is in direct contrast of recent social media reports that signs are continued to be stolen and acts of harassment are on-going. If in fact that is true, the Hillsdale Police Department has not received any reports and we need the public to report this activity.

As a result of an investigation into the theft, a River Vale resident was criminally charged with two (2) counts theft of movable property, a violation of NJSA 2C:20-3A. The offender is innocent until proven guilty. The investigation revealed that there was no nexus to any hate or radical groups associated with this defendant. Although we can not share what the defendant’s motivation was to steal the sign, it was not what one would envision. Furthermore, there was one incident of criminal mischief to a residence on 8/5/2020 which is currently under investigation.

The Hillsdale Police Department is 100% committed to investigate these matters seriously and resolve them as quickly as possible. We understand how upsetting and traumatizing these criminal acts have been to the victims involved and we sympathize in their pain, but rest assured that our pledge is to always seek justice. We have and will continue to work in partnership with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to identify, investigate and ultimately prosecute any criminal acts suspected of being hate/biased in nature. In these particular reported incidents, these acts are not considered hate or bias crimes under our current law. If in fact any of these acts are deemed a hate/bias crime, the Prosecutor’s Office will determine what charges will be warranted. The Hillsdale Police Department continues to use all available resources and are enforcing the laws to keep our residents safe. The members of the Hillsdale Police Department want the residents to take comfort and know that there is NOT an ongoing threat and that several of our department members live and were raised in the borough; we consider ourselves part of the fabric of this community.

The Hillsdale Police Department thanks the residents for their investigative assistance and patience it has shown over the past several months. It was their assistance that led to an apprehension followed by charges for the offense. These are trying times and now more than ever we need to do what has always set Hillsdale apart from the rest, and that is to come together as a community and unite. We humbly ask you to not to let these acts of a particular individual/individuals destroy all of the hard work we put into this welcoming and inclusive town.

Lastly, The Hillsdale Police Department encourages its residents to report suspicious activity, make reports for signs stolen or vandalized immediately and to follow our official social media pages for any updates.

With utmost concern for our residents,

Chief Robert Francaviglia



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