Burglaries are on the rise in the 7th Police District

A lot happened in the 7th Po­lice Dis­trict over the sum­mer, ac­cord­ing to Capt. Joseph Zaffino. Un­for­tu­nately, burg­lar­ies have prob­ably been the most fre­quent oc­cur­rence.

Like oth­er po­lice dis­tricts in the North­east and throughout Phil­adelphia, the 7th has seen a big in­crease in the volume of burg­lar­ies, Zaffino said dur­ing the 7th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil’s  Septem­ber meet­ing. Po­lice have yet to get a firm grip on the prob­lem, des­pite try­ing vari­ous in­vest­ig­at­ive strategies and pub­lic out­reach ef­forts.

Zaffino’s latest idea was to is­sue a “re­verse 911” call to 7th dis­trict res­id­ents on Sept. 14. At about 6 p.m. that day, many res­id­ents of the dis­trict were to re­ceive a re­cor­ded mes­sage from the cap­tain via tele­phone warn­ing them of the per­sist­ent burg­lary prob­lem and ad­vising them of pre­vent­at­ive meas­ures.

Ac­cord­ing to the cap­tain, many re­por­ted crimes could have been pre­ven­ted had res­id­ents not made it easy for burg­lars by leav­ing their doors or win­dows open or un­locked.

Aside from keep­ing the house locked and se­cure, res­id­ents might also in­vest in mo­tion-sens­ing out­door lights or alarm sys­tems to scare off po­ten­tial burg­lars. An­oth­er good tip, Zaffino said, is to avoid erect­ing tall pri­vacy fences or shrubs around the yard. Burg­lars like to tar­get homes that provide them with easy cov­er for their activ­it­ies.

In ad­di­tion to the tele­phone mes­sage, Zaffino on Sept. 14 is­sued a text mes­sage warn­ing to those who have signed up for the ReadyNo­ti­fyPA sys­tem.

“Be ad­vised that there has been a spike in burg­lar­ies with­in the bound­ar­ies of Grant Av­en­ue to Rhawn Street and Roosevelt Boulevard to Krewstown Road,” the mes­sage stated. “We are ask­ing that all res­id­ents be di­li­gent in keep­ing a watch­ful eye in their neigh­bor­hoods. … Re­port any sus­pi­cious activ­ity to 911 im­me­di­ately.” The mes­sage fur­ther stated that wit­nesses should not dir­ectly en­gage sus­pects in any way.

Dur­ing the PDAC meet­ing, Zaffino said that po­lice be­lieve three sus­pects are in­volved in the latest rash of home break-ins. They have been seen trav­el­ing or sit­ting in­side an older bronze Nis­san Al­tima, pos­sibly a 1999 mod­el year. The vehicle is in good con­di­tion des­pite its age and does not have any post-mar­ket cus­tom­iz­a­tion. It may have been stolen, Zaffino said.

Typ­ic­ally one male will wait in­side the car or circle the neigh­bor­hood as the oth­er two will ap­proach tar­geted homes on foot, be­fore re­turn­ing to the vehicle to make a get­away.

In ad­di­tion to the burg­lary prob­lem, the dis­trict has seen an in­crease in the volume of thefts from autos, par­tic­u­larly in Fox Chase north of Rhawn Street and east of Pine Road, Zaffino said. Mo­tor­ists are ad­vised to re­move all pos­ses­sions from un­at­ten­ded vehicles and to lock all doors.

Two 7th dis­trict of­ficers were honored at the PDAC meet­ing as Of­ficers of the Month. Robert Alford earned the award for June for ap­pre­hend­ing a burg­lary sus­pect on the 2300 block of Stan­wood St.

On June 3, Alford went to the block in re­sponse to a re­port of a burg­lary in pro­gress. Of­ficers at the scene told Alford that the sus­pect was still in­side the house and provided him with a de­scrip­tion.

A short time later, the sus­pect tried to flee through the front door, but Alford blocked the sus­pect and ordered him to the ground. Alford re­covered $588 cash and a ring from the sus­pect, along with the key to a Mer­cedes-Benz that was parked nearby.

Oth­er of­ficers ar­res­ted a second sus­pect who also had been in­side the house. Ac­cord­ing to Zaffino, the first sus­pect was linked to a series of break-ins, con­victed and sen­tenced to 30 years in pris­on.

The award for Ju­ly went to Of­ficer Nigel Evans, who on Ju­ly 16 ar­res­ted a burg­lary and as­sault sus­pect in­side a vic­tim’s home on the 1700 block of Ra­chael St.

When Evans ar­rived at the scene of the dis­turb­ance, a man told the of­ficer that he was sleep­ing in his bed­room when he woke up to someone punch­ing him re­peatedly in the face. The vic­tim was un­able to de­fend him­self or fight back. Dur­ing the as­sault, the sus­pect also threw sev­er­al house­hold items at the res­id­ent, caus­ing bruises to his face and cuts to his mouth.

Evans ar­res­ted the sus­pect at the scene. ••

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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