Police provide home security tips for the holidays

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With wrapped presents under Christmas trees, packages placed on doorsteps and gifts piled in the backseats of cars in mall parking lots, the holiday season brings a greater focus on securing one’s belongings.

Although burglaries in Colchester don’t increase during the holidays, the opportunities for targeted incidents somewhat do, Colchester Detective Cpl. Mark Jacobs said.

In the summertime, culprits have better access to homes with open windows and vegetation that might shield them from view, he said.

But this time of year, robberies are more likely, with people carrying more money than usual. An earlier sunset also provides more opportunity for a robber to go unnoticed, Jacobs said.

Jacobs provided insight on how to keep one’s residence protected during these winter months.

First, lock your doors and windows: Simply closing them isn’t enough, he explained.

If you’re going on a trip, ask a trusted neighbor to look over your house. Then, let your local police agency know you’ll be gone.

CPD has a “vacant house log” to keep track of when Colchester residents leave and return, the homeowners’ contact person and if the home has any timed lights. A good number of people already do this, Jacobs said.

The PD doesn’t patrol the houses in the log, but if a suspicious call comes in for one of the homes, police have more information to act from, the officer said.

Using motion detected or timed lights can also make a house look occupied. As for the driveway, some folks will leave a car out to accomplish the same effect, he said.

Keeping a radio on during the day is also an option, he added.

Another technique is to display window stickers and yard signs sporting an alarm system’s brand, or guard dog and “beware of dog” decals.

Don’t have a dog or an alarm system? Sport them anyway, he said.

Having an alarm system, though, is a good route, whether silent or audible, Jacobs explained. Jacobs said he prefers audible alarms so burglars know others are aware of their motives.

There are also smartphone apps that alert homeowners when their doorbell rings. Some even hook up to cameras, he said.

Overall, the detective urged reporting suspicious activity, whether you think it’s important or not.

“Sometimes folks think it’s a waste of time [to call] or they’re inconveniencing us or we have better things to do,” Jacobs said. “But we have resolved some pretty decent cases on something that a person in the community doesn’t think is important.”

So far this year, CPD has responded to 58 burglaries, five robberies and 215 larcenies. These numbers remain fairly even with 2015 data, though larcenies have increased by 20.

“Protect your stuff,” Jacobs said with the numbers in mind. “You have to take those steps. Just a smidgen thing might deter somebody from deciding to either steal your property or not.”

These include being mindful of your wallet or purse while perusing a grocery market or commercial store, he said.

Cover any gifts in the backseat of your car. Or better yet, transfer them to the trunk, he said.

As for spotting a culprit’s car, Jacobs said not to assume he or she has an old, beat-up truck. Nowadays, the offender could be driving a 2017 vehicle – which occurred in Colchester last week.

Last Friday, two residential burglaries occurred less than a mile away from one another – one on Galvin Hill Road and the other on Coon Hill Road, a press release said.

The majority of these crimes are committed by people suffering from an opioid addiction, Jacobs said.

“A lot of them, they’re very desperate,” he said. “They’re addicted to heroin, or whatever substance they’re using, and they’re taking drastic steps to do whatever they can to get anything they can to fix [how they’re feeling].”

If you see suspicious activity, call Colchester PD’s non-emergency line at 264-5556.