Philadelphia police on Monday issued a public warning via the ReadyNotifyPA system about a recent spike in the number of residential burglaries occurring in the 7th district.
Capt. Joseph Zaffino, commander of the district, reported that the majority of home break-ins involved instances in which the burglars gained access via unlocked doors or windows.
“We’ve had probably our worst month in several years,” said Zaffino, who did not provide specific statistics without approval from police administration. “Seventy-five or eighty percent [of cases] have been unlocked doors and windows.”
In the ReadyNotifyPA warning issued at 10:30 a.m., Zaffino stated that burglaries had increased particularly in the prior week throughout the 7th district. The district’s boundaries are Rhawn Street to the south, Roosevelt Boulevard to the east, Poquessing Creek to the north and Montgomery County to the west.
In addition to urging residents to close and lock first-floor doors and windows, Zaffino warned them to store car keys in a safe place because, in many cases, burglars have taken victims’ keys and cars.
The crimes seem to be occurring during daytime working hours as well as during overnight hours. The district has received no reports of physical confrontations between burglars and residents, although in some cases crooks have broken into occupied homes and fled when discovered.
Police have made three recent arrests that seem to have reduced burglary instances in a couple of isolated areas within the district, but residents must remain vigilant.
Zaffino suspects that the summer heat may be a reason that many residents are leaving doors and windows open. Although health should always be the first concern during a heat wave, he said, residents should try to keep first-floor windows and doors locked, even if the second floor windows remain open.
Residents should also consider installing security devices such as window stoppers that prevent windows from opening beyond a few inches. Homeowners should also trim bushes to reduce the potential hiding spots for a burglar. Other security options include outdoor lighting, burglar alarms and video cameras.
Residents who encounter a burglar should not confront the crook. They should call 911 immediately and provide a good description of the suspect. Residents should also monitor their neighborhoods for suspicious strangers or activity and report it to 911. ••