A recent spate of house burglaries has local police warning residents to protect themselves with common-sense steps like locking doors and windows.
Robberies and car breaks are also expected to increase with the holiday season, as criminals find cash-carrying victims and gifts left inside vehicles. But again, there are simple ways residents can cut their risk.
Many of the recent housebreaks have been daytime burglaries by criminals who wander back yards looking for open doors and windows, said Sgt. Detective Kim Gaddy of the local E-13 Police Station.
There have also been evening burglaries by criminals who watch for a resident to leave their house to walk a dog or some other brief activity, leaving their door unlocked.
While locking doors and windows seems like common sense, many people don’t do it, said E-13 Community Service Officer Carlos Lara. “They get so comfortable and think it won’t happen to them,” he said.
“A lot of our B&Es [breaking-and-enterings] are not forced,” Gaddy said. She said the burglars sometimes use crates or other items left outside as ladders to climb up to open windows. “It’s an open invitation to them,” she said. “It is almost like a trigger for these guys.”
“Wherever there’s an opportunity, there’s going to be a knucklehead out there to take advantage of it,” Gaddy said.
If there haven’t been burglaries on your street recently, that doesn’t mean you’re safe. Burglars move all around the neighborhood, and they often don’t stop until they’re caught.
“It’s not like he’s working at Smith Barney and one day decides to start doing housebreaks,” E-13 Capt. Kelley McCormick previously told the Gazette about the typical burglar, explaining that they’re usually repeat criminals.
Gaddy said some burglars have been arrested in recent weeks, and special police investigations continue. But other burglars are still out there, she said.
The E-13 police offer free, professional safety surveys for homes and businesses, where they give recommendations on improving security. Residents can call Lara at 343-5624 for more information. Police also recommend forming a crime watch. For help with that, residents can contact Officer Judi Wright at Police Headquarters at 343-4345.
The entire Boston Police Department, including E-13, is now connected with CitizenObserver.com, a private service that e-mails special crime alerts and crime watch information to residents and businesses who subscribe.
E-13 has also produced a brochure of crime tips called “Operation Eyes and Ears” about preventing burglary and robbery. Some of those tips follow; for more information, call Lara or see www.e13bpd.com.
• Always lock your doors and windows, even if you leave for only a short time. A window screen does not stop a burglar.
• Never leave items outside that a burglar could climb to reach a window. Never leave tools or items outside that a burglar could use to break in.
• Make sure you have good exterior lighting.
• Don’t hide keys outside your house, such as under a doormat.
• Take photos of all your valuable items, like computers or jewelry, and write down any serial numbers on them. If they are stolen, that will help police find them. It also helps to put your own special ID marks on items. The E-13 police will lend you an engraving tool.
• Always lock your car, even if you’re only getting out briefly. Never leave the keys in the ignition.
• Don’t leave anything valuable in plain view inside your car, not even pocket change. Put items in the trunk if you can’t take them with you.
• When walking, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t talk on cell phones or listen to music. Walk confidently so you don’t look like easy prey. Avoid carrying a purse.
• If someone tries to rob you and says they have a weapon, cooperate. Don’t attempt to fight or argue.
• If you see someone suspicious in the neighborhood or who appears to be following you, don’t hesitate to call the police. You should trust your instincts, and the police don’t mind investigating.