Northeast Times

Use common sense to avoid burglaries

It’s the little things.

Burg­lars like them. Rings, gold chains, ear­rings, medi­cine bottles, cell phones, and iPods are small enough to stuff in­to pock­ets, so they are the things burg­lars take out of a house with ease.

And in the 15th Po­lice Dis­trict, the city’s largest, burg­lars have been hav­ing a huge sum­mer do­ing just that.

“There’s been a pretty good in­crease,” said Capt. Frank Bach­may­er, the dis­trict’s com­mand­er.

From Ju­ly 1 to Aug. 17, ac­cord­ing to Bach­may­er, there have been 122 res­id­en­tial burg­lar­ies. Two areas have seen the most, he said: From Levick Street to Bridge Street, from Roosevelt Boulevard to the Delaware River; and from Mar­garet and Ar­rott streets to Church Street, between Oak­land Street and Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue.

No one par­tic­u­lar crim­in­al or group of house­break­ers is thought to be be­hind all or most of the burg­lar­ies, the cap­tain said.

GRAND OPEN­INGS

The crooks have been break­ing in through back doors, side doors, win­dows or cut screens. Some­times, they kick in win­dow-moun­ted air con­di­tion­ers and crawl in. And, par­tic­u­larly galling to po­lice, some burg­lars have had it easy. They’ve slipped through un­locked win­dows or simply walked in through un­locked doors.

So what do burg­lars do once in­side? They race up to your bed­room and dump your bur­eau draw­ers as they look for your jew­elry, cash and small elec­tron­ics.

Va­cant build­ings are pop­u­lar with burg­lars, too. They waltz in and dance out with cop­per pipes that they sell for scrap.

The po­lice do catch some of these guys. Bach­may­er said burg­lary ar­rests in the 15th dis­trict are up 47 per­cent this year over last. Those caught have been both ju­ven­iles and adults, and some have been loc­al. Most burg­lars hit homes in their own neigh­bor­hoods.

Burg­lars rarely are caught in the act, however. They’re tracked down by de­tect­ives, but that is prob­ably small com­fort to the people who have been vic­tim­ized.

Bach­may­er has been preach­ing pre­ven­tion. Don’t make your­self an easy vic­tim of what is of­ten a crime of op­por­tun­ity for crooks. Lock your win­dows, lock your doors and don’t leave your cash and jew­elry ly­ing around or stashed in ob­vi­ous places.

And, any­one who does come home to a burg­lary scene should keep in mind that it is just that — a crime scene. Call the po­lice right away. Vic­tims shouldn’t tidy up their homes or start fix­ing any dam­age done by the burg­lars un­til po­lice have gathered any evid­ence the burg­lars have left be­hind.

PRIME TIME FOR BUR­GLERS

If you plan to go away dur­ing the up­com­ing long hol­i­day week­end, don’t ad­vert­ise your ab­sence. Sus­pend de­liv­ery of daily pa­pers and your mail, and ask a neigh­bor to keep an eye on your home.

Use elec­tron­ic timers to have your lights go on and off, Lt. Robert Cas­selli said dur­ing an Aug. 17 meet­ing of the 15th dis­trict’s Po­lice Ser­vice Area 1.

Move your stuff around. If you have a safety de­pos­it box, use it; put ex­pens­ive jew­elry, ir­re­place­able fam­ily heir­looms, cred­it cards you aren’t tak­ing on your trip, rare stamps or coins and im­port­ant pa­pers in the box. Don’t leave cash around. If you have a bank ac­count, put your money in it.

If you have ir­re­place­able in­form­a­tion on your com­puter, copy it to a flash drive and either take that with you or put that in your safety de­pos­it box.

It might be smart to move your pre­scrip­tion med­ic­a­tions out of your medi­cine cab­in­et be­fore you go away, Cas­selli said. The lieu­ten­ant said there is a big mar­ket for paink­illers, and burg­lars know it. It doesn’t take long to empty out a medi­cine cab­in­et.

Pa­pers build­ing up on your step and let­ters ac­cu­mu­lat­ing in your mail­box aren’t the only signs you’re not home. Be care­ful what you or fam­ily mem­bers put on­line.

Of­ficer Heath­er An­drews said all the in­form­a­tion that people put on so­cial net­work In­ter­net sites can be used by burg­lars.

A de­term­ined burg­lar — who cer­tainly is no friend — will find a way to read the per­son­al in­form­a­tion you’ve lis­ted no mat­ter how you’ve lim­ited ac­cess. He can find out you’re on va­ca­tion, where you are and how long you will be away. Most burg­lars like to get in and out, but if you tell them they can take their time, they will. Check what your kids have put on­line and get them to re­move the stuff that is just an in­form­a­tion bon­anza for house­break­ers.

Noth­ing in these warn­ings is, or should be, news to any­one. Still, some people just won’t be­lieve it is prob­able, or even pos­sible, that any­one will get in­to their homes and swipe their stuff.

“It’s deni­al,” Bach­may­er said in an in­ter­view. “They think it can’t hap­pen to them.” ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

Get tipped …

The po­lice are will­ing to alert you per­son­ally when crime is hap­pen­ing near your home or work place. Any­one can sign up for ReadyNo­ti­fyPa, the 15th Po­lice Dis­trict’s com­mand­er, Capt. Frank Bach­may­er, said. Go to www.readyno­ti­fypa.org

It takes just a few minutes to sign up for po­lice, traffic and weath­er alerts to be sent to your e-mail ac­count, cell phone or pager.

When you sign up, you can re­quest in­form­a­tion about the neigh­bor­hoods in which you live and work and for city­wide alerts, too, Bach­may­er said.

For ex­ample, the cap­tain said, he could put out a no­tice that there is a burg­lary trend near your home along with some safety tips.

That heads-up ser­vice does not op­er­ate 24 hours a day, he said. No­tices are sent only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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