When Westminster Cpl. Brian Marlow responded to a recent report of a home burglary, he noted some details that seem to be a current trend in the crime: bigger items were left untouched while easy-to-carry items, such as cash and jewelry, were missing.
The home was ransacked and the burglar had entered by smashing in a rear sliding glass door.
Marlow said by taking some simple safety steps, from double checking windows to building relationships with neighbors, the homeowners may have been able to protect their belongings.
While residential burglaries in Westminster are on the decline, going from 282 reported burglaries in 2012 to 234 in 2014, police said residents need to remain alert.
Non-violent crime, including home burglaries, is trending to be up for 2015, which police attribute to the adoption of Proposition 47 — legislation that reduces the penalties on some crimes including grand theft, forgery and illegal drug use, police said.
By taking extra precautions, residents can help deter some crime, including home break-ins.
Marlow said residents should be extra diligent in the summer months when it may be tempting to leave windows or doors open to keep their homes cool. Even leaving small bathroom windows open can make the residence an easy target.
If the home is also lacking an alarm system, burglars will often take their time sorting through items and taking the most valuable things.
“Ninety-nine percent of the homes I’ve seen burglarized do not have alarm systems,” Marlow said. “A large amount of these homes are ransacked and suspects rummage through every single room in the house.”
Having a dog can be a great prevention measure along with maintaining a well-groomed front yard.
“Residents should cut back any large trees, bushes or hedges,” he said. “If these are overgrown, it provides excellent concealment for the burglar from neighbors and others passing by.”
For residents going on vacation, Marlow suggests making arrangements for a neighbor or family member to pick up newspapers and mail so it doesn’t pile up and cue burglars to an empty home.
But one of the best prevention measures, Marlow added, is simply being a good neighbor.
“Get to know your neighbors so they are familiar with who is typically at the residence during the day,” he said. “We rely on a proactive community to be our eyes and ears throughout the city and encourage residents to contact us if they think something is suspicious.”