TAKE PRECAUTIONS AGAINST HOME BREAK-INS, BIKE THEFTS

Property crime increases in summer months

SOMERVILLE
- The City of Somerville and Somerville Police Department remind residents to
take precautions as summer weather warms up to protect
their homes and bicycles from thieves.

Warmer
summer months correlate with increased crime rates nationally and in Somerville.
Residential breaking and enterings are generally elevated from June to October,
as residents leave their windows open during warmer days, place air
conditioning units that can be removed in windows or go on vacation. Meanwhile,
almost half of all bike thefts in Somerville occur from June through August and
almost 70 percent occur from June through September.

This
year, about 85 percent of residential breaking and enterings in Somerville
occur between the afternoon from noon to 6 p.m. and the early evening from 6
p.m. to midnight, evenly split between those two time frames. Ninety percent of
afternoon breaking and enterings occur during a weekday while 55 percent occur
during the weekend, usually on Saturdays. This departs from past trends, as breaking and
enterings historically tend to be afternoon and weekday oriented.

Windows
(46 percent) are currently slightly more popular than doors (40 percent) as an
entry method for home break-ins. Approximately 64 percent of windows and 48
percent of doors were definitively described as "forced" in incident reports.
In the case of windows, this also includes when a screen is cut or pried open
to grant access to an unlocked window; in the case of doors, this includes any
door forced open, including common doors to multi-unit homes that could then
grant access to an unlocked apartment door.

For
bike thefts, almost half of all bike thefts in Somerville occur from June
through August, almost 70 percent from June through September. Thirty-four percent
occurred from the front of a residence, with those stolen bikes left unattended
for an average of 16 hours. Approximately 65 percent of thefts occurred in the
evening or overnight (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.).

Three
areas represent roughly half of all summer bike thefts in the city, starting
with the Davis Square neighborhood, especially the Square itself. Twenty
percent of thefts occurred in Davis Square proper, with most bikes taken
between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Thirty-five percent of bikes stolen from Davis
Square were left for an extended period; on average stolen bikes were left
unattended in this area for 22 hours. The other two areas with the highest
reported bike thefts are Highland Avenue and adjacent streets from Lowell
Street east; and Beacon Street and adjacent streets to Park Street, and Park
Street from Beacon Street to Somerville Avenue.

Tips to protect homes
can be found online at http://www.somervillepolice.org/index.php/143-burglary-prevention-for-the-summer,
or below.

 

 Steps to protect homes:

  • Keep doors closed and locked, both front and
    back.
  • If your home has an outer door to a common
    hallway, keep that door locked as well. Unlocked outer doors provide burglars
    the ability to break into inner doors to homes while out of sight of neighbors
    and police.
  • Keep windows closed with latches closed too when
    the home is unoccupied. If windows are kept open for ventilation, keep them
    open no more than 4-6 inches, and make sure the opening is not wide enough to
    allow burglars to reach through to unlock a door or remove a window lock.
  • Plastic window tabs will not deter a determined
    burglar. Locks plus a second system, such as wooden sticks or dowels between
    the window frame or a horizontal bar/cementer nails have the most preventative
    value.
  • For horizontally sliding windows or sliding
    doors, wooden dowels or sticks can be used in the sliding tracks to prevent
    burglars from easily opening them from the outside.
  • Leave a light or two turned on or on times when
    the home is unoccupied at night. In a sample of recent nighttime breaks when
    nobody was home at the time of the break, all respondents said the home was
    left in total darkness.
  • If you have an alarm system, use it each time
    the home is unoccupied.


If you leave your home
unoccupied for an extended period of time
due to vacation:


  • Get to know your neighbors and agree to watch
    each other's home.
  • Ask someone to pick up the mail, newspapers left
    on the front porch and put out the trash. Thieves can use overflowing mail box,
    trash barrels not put out or taken in and deliveries left in plain sight to
    target homes that are unoccupied.
  • Ask a neighbor to park their car in your
    driveway.
  • Use timers for lights, radios and televisions at
    night while you are away to make the home appear occupied.
  • Use timers for outside lights to keep the home
    illuminated, both in front and back.

 

If residents want to upgrade
home security
, options include:

  • Use a solid core or metal door at entrance points.
  • nstall a heavy-duty deadbolt lock.
  • Install a knob-in-lock set that uses a dead latch
    mechanism.
  • Install a heavy duty strike plate to prevent a burglar
    from kicking in the door.
  • Windows generally have latches, not locks. Install
    secondary locking devices for windows, such as through the frame pins.
  • Purchase a professionally installed alarm system that
    must include an audible horn or siren.
  • Surveillance cameras are relatively inexpensive and not
    only act as a deterrent, but provide valuable evidence if a crime does
    occur. Many surveillance systems also provide the owner email notification
    when a camera detects motion.

To protect your
possessions
in case of a break-in:

  • Register laptops and
    other valuable electronic items with Somerville's Web-based Registry Anti-Theft
    Program (WRAP), available
    on the City's website
    .
  • Engrave your driver's
    license number (and state) on televisions, stereos, computers and small
    electronic appliances.
  • Photograph valuables,
    especially jewelry and electronics.
  • Make a list of make,
    model, serial numbers and value of important items. Give a copy of this list
    to a relative or close friend.
  • Talk to your insurance
    agent to make sure your valuables will be covered in the event of a theft.

Steps to protect
your bike:

  • Do not store your bike in front of your
    residence overnight.
  • Secure your bike, even in your backyard or on
    your back porch.Bikes should not be left unattended on vehicle
    racks.

 

What should you report to police?

  • Someone who rings your bell and asks for someone
    who doesn't live there. This person may be checking to see if anyone is home.
    Most house breakers will avoid a home that they know is occupied.
  • Seeing a stranger walking in and out of
    yards.
  • A strange car in the driveway of a home when you
    know the occupants are away.
  • Never hesitate to call 911 if someone or
    something doesn't look right. Trust your instinct. You and your neighbors are
    part of your neighborhood's security network.

If you see something suspicious:

  •  Call 911 immediately.
  • If your house is broken into, call police
    immediately and do not touch anything the criminal may have touched.
  • Write down plate numbers of suspicious vehicles.