15th PDAC offers anti-burglary tips at meeting

That win­dow air con­di­tion­er you turned off but didn’t put away after the weath­er turned cool might let in more than a draft. A burg­lar could just push it in, crawl in­to your home and walk out with your stuff.

Don’t worry that this might be a tu­tori­al for house­break­ers. They know that trick. Now you do, too.

If you don’t want to be a vic­tim, start think­ing like a crim­in­al, Of­ficer Melissa Pan­e­bi­anco told mem­bers of the 15th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil.

The of­ficer knows about burg­lar­ies. She’s been work­ing a lot of cases. In 2013, there were more than 800 burg­lar­ies in the 15th.

The way Pan­e­bi­anco de­scribes it, keep­ing burg­lars out of your home is a com­mon-sense sci­ence. Start with put­ting the air con­di­tion­er away for the winter and lock­ing the win­dow.

Get good locks on your doors and win­dows, Pan­e­bi­anco said, and use them. The same for light­ing and burg­lar alarms. If you have an alarm sys­tem and don’t turn it on be­cause you’re just run­ning to the store for a few minutes, you’re de­feat­ing the pur­pose of the sys­tem.

None of this should be new to city res­id­ents. Po­lice from patrol of­ficers up to dis­trict com­mand­ers have been try­ing for years to ham­mer home point­ers that res­id­ents can use to pro­tect their prop­erty. Burg­lary stats show, however, more at­ten­tion should be paid.

Lt. John Ry­an said Pan­e­bi­anco will be vis­it­ing neigh­bor­hood or­gan­iz­a­tions to try to raise that in­terest level.

“Locks can stop an am­a­teur and slow down ex­per­i­enced burg­lars,” she said dur­ing the PDAC’s Jan. 27 ses­sion.

Burg­lars can be in and out of a home in a mat­ter of minutes. They look for little things that they can just shove in their pock­ets — cash, jew­elry and small elec­tron­ics like smart­phones.

Not only should you not make it easy for them to get in, but you shouldn’t make it easy for them to find your valu­ables by hid­ing them in ob­vi­ous places if they do get in­side.

Are your dol­lars and baubles in your bed­room dress­er? Un­der a mat­tress? They’ll be no prob­lem to find. Think of bet­ter hid­ing places, the of­ficer said.

Take pho­tos of your ex­pens­ive jew­elry and jot down the seri­al num­bers of the pricey elec­tron­ics like ste­reos and flat-screen TVs. 

“We can track with seri­al num­bers,” Pan­e­bi­anco said. Us­ing the In­ter­net track­ing ser­vice, lead­son­line.com, she said, “I can get an alert as soon as stolen mer­chand­ise is sold.”

Alarms and mo­tion de­tect­ors are good, she said, and so are sur­veil­lance cam­er­as, which, she said, can be re­gistered with the Po­lice De­part­ment’s Sa­fe­Cam pro­gram. Also, res­id­ents can sign up for Op­er­a­tion ID, which provides stick­ers with your driver’s li­cense num­ber or So­cial Se­cur­ity num­ber so your prop­erty can be tracked if it is stolen.

Go to sa­fe­cam.philly­po­lice.com/ for more in­form­a­tion on the Sa­fe­Cam pro­gram. Vis­it www.philly­po­lice.com/forms/op­er­a­tion-id/ for in­form­a­tion on Op­er­a­tion ID.


Most burg­lar­ies oc­cur dur­ing the day while people are at work, Pan­e­bi­anco said.

“They’ll do the knock test,” she said. If you an­swer your door, they’ll say they’re look­ing for some­body. Call 911, the of­ficer said, and give a de­scrip­tion of the per­son and a car, if you see one. Even bet­ter, give a li­cense plate num­ber.

Some crooks don’t even both­er go­ing in­to a house. They fol­low UPS and Fed Ex trucks around a neigh­bor­hood and scoop up what’s be­ing de­livered.

“There was a spate of that be­fore Christ­mas,” Ry­an said.

In 2013, Ry­an said, many crimes de­creased in the 15th, which in­cludes Frank­ford, Brides­burg, North­wood, Wissi­nom­ing and May­fair.

There were 22 hom­icides in 2012, but 13 in 2013, he said. Rob­ber­ies in­volving guns went from 328 in 2012 to 258 in 2013. Oth­er rob­ber­ies dropped, but not as dra­mat­ic­ally, from 427 in 2012 to 407 in 2013.

Ag­grav­ated as­saults with fire­arms went from 207 to 161, Ry­an said. Oth­er ag­grav­ated as­saults went from 638 to 535. Vi­ol­ent crime totals, the lieu­ten­ant said, were down 10 per­cent.

Res­id­en­tial burg­lar­ies went up by one, from 816 in 2012 to 817 in 2013. Non­res­id­en­tial burg­lar­ies de­creased from 215 to 115.

Thefts from per­sons was down 33 per­cent, and thefts from cars dropped 15 per­cent, Ry­an said. Auto theft slid 12 per­cent. Total prop­erty theft dropped 8 per­cent, Ry­an said.

Be­cause re­port­ing re­quire­ments changed to fit the FBI’s defin­i­tion of rape to in­clude a num­ber of dif­fer­ent crimes, Ry­an said, rape stat­ist­ics rose from 2012 to 2013, from 73 to 104.


The ad­vis­ory coun­cil’s pres­id­ent, Mike Thaete, de­cided not to stay at his post this year, and was honored dur­ing the Jan. 27 meet­ing for his years of ser­vice. Mem­bers and of­ficers presen­ted him with a plaque and plenty of praise as “an as­set to the com­munity and a friend for every­one.”

Any cred­it is cred­it that should be shared, Thaete said.

“It’s not just me,” Thaete said, “it’s a group ef­fort.”

The 15th’s Clive Aus­tin was honored as Decem­ber’s Of­ficer of the Month. Aus­tin, who works the Frank­ford Av­en­ue beat, is a fa­mil­i­ar face to store­keep­ers and shop­pers in the busi­ness cor­ridor.

Treas­urer Pete Specos said the or­gan­iz­a­tion is hop­ing to spon­sor a “gun buy­back” in the spring. No ques­tions are asked by po­lice as ci­vil­ians turn in weapons in ex­change for gift cards provided by event spon­sors.

The 15th PDAC’s next ses­sion will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24, at the May­fair Com­munity Cen­ter, 2990 St. Vin­cent St. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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