Thursday April 18, 2013
Spring is here with summer just around the corner. Like many people, I look forward to the numerous activities Vermont has to offer from spring to autumn. Unfortunately, the warmer months bring an increase in other, less pleasant activity. From May through November, there is a significant increase in the reports of larcenies in South Burlington. In analyzing data over the last three years, the South Burlington Police Department investigates an average of 72-83 larcenies per month during May through November. This is significantly higher than the average of 48-56 per month we see from December through April over those same three years.
One of the most common types of larceny is from motor vehicles. Over a 7 month span, from May of 2012 through November of 2012, this agency took approximately 200 reports of thefts from vehicles. Items that were stolen include, computers, GPS systems, I-pods, bags, pocketbooks, phones, guns, clothing, cash, checkbooks, even loose change. We have seen windows broken in some of these incidents, but the vast majority of these thefts involve unlocked vehicles. Often times these thefts occur at night while the vehicle is parked in a driveway or parking lot. The persons committing these crimes will walk through a neighborhood at night, checking the doors on all unoccupied vehicles. While we have had some success arresting persons for these types of offenses, the majority of the cases remain unsolved and the stolen property is never recovered.
Some basic, common sense reminders: Remove the property you value from your car. Always lock the vehicle doors when not using it, even in your driveway, even if you are not going to be out of your car for a long time. If you must leave valuable property in your car, conceal it if possible. In the incidents where a car is locked but a window is smashed to gain access, items such as purses, electronics, bags of merchandise or other potential high end items are in plain view on a seat or floor.
Another crime that we have seen
a surge in over the last three years is burglary. In 2010, the South Burlington Police Department investigated 44 burglaries. That total climbed to 75 in 2011 and rose to 112 in 2012. Just over 70 percent of those occur in the May to November time period. Many of these burglaries are residences and frequently occur during the daylight hours. Access is often gained through unlocked doors, open windows, popping door lock handles or lifting locked sliding glass doors off their track. Another common tactic in the warmer months is to push in window fans or air conditioners that are on a ground floor level.
Some basic, common sense reminders in regards to protecting your homes: Lock your doors and windows. Don’t forget the windows and back doors to garages, as people often forget to check them. Install deadbolt locks on your exterior doors, as they are more difficult to defeat then a locked knob or handle. Install a brace on sliding glass doors or block it with a pole of similar length. Brace your air conditioners and window fans so they cannot be pushed in. Secure bicycles in garages, locked sheds or to a fixed object. A very wise police officer once told me, “evil seeks darkness”, which in my experience has often proved to be true. To help protect your home at night, install motion sensors on your exterior lights or leave them on.
The most common motive driving these larcenies and burglaries is drugs, primarily heroin. To put some context to this issue, since January of this year, the South Burlington Police Department has seized the equivalent of approximately 3,000 bags of heroin, with a street value of $50,000 to $60,000. A drug addict, regardless of the drug, will take any easy opportunity they can find to fund their addiction.
If you don’t want to be the next easy opportunity, take a little more time to make sure your property is secure. Another way to prevent crime is a vigilant community. Know your neighbors and pay attention to people who are in your neighborhood. If something seems suspicious or out of place, call the police department with your concerns. We can’t stop all crime. But by taking a little extra time to secure property and being aware of your surroundings, you can minimize your exposure and loss to it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by: Sgt David Solomon, South Burlington Police Department, Patrol Division