The following is VIA BaltimoreJewishLife.com
Due to a major spike in crime across Baltimore, a meeting took place between the Baltimore City Police, the Baltimore County Police and presidents of local shuls this past Tuesday, July 21.
The main areas of concern are burglaries, theft from cars and car theft itself.
What We Learned from the Police Briefing:
The burglaries are occurring between midnight and 6:00 AM. The perpetrators almost always gain access through UNLOCKED windows and doors. In one case, they reached into the house through the insulation of a window air conditioner. There have been no forced entries so far. In the case of car thefts and thefts from cars, almost always UNLOCKED, UNSECUREDcars are involved.
The police strongly suspect there is one group (possibly two) committing the burglaries. They believe the criminals are older and more experienced (not teenagers) since they are leaving no evidence behind (e.g. finger prints) and they are careful to steal only cash from the homes (usually by taking a purse or wallet which have generally been found in neighbors’ yards a day or two later minus the cash). They have not tried using credit cards or stealing valuables and pawning them, which can be traced.
Captain John McGann of the Baltimore County Police, and Acting Captain Jason Yerg of the Baltimore City Police, informed us of the many things they are doing to apprehend these thieves. These included, but were not limited to; assigning detectives to these burglaries, putting more officers on the streets in marked and unmarked cars, assigning more officers to the midnight to early morning shift, the use of social media to track down leads, and investigating past offenders.
The police emphasized that they need help from the public to solve these crimes. That help is in the form of our being their eyes and ears. They, therefore, asked us to inform the community to call 911 if something looks, seems or sounds suspicious. They said people should not be concerned that the police may think they are an alarmists or foolish. They emphasized that they need this help to catch the thieves.
There are some things we can do to protect ourselves:
- Make sure all windows (especially on the first floor) and doors are locked. If you must leave a window open, you can buy one that only allows the window to go up a minimal amount. A window with a broken lock can be secured by placing a well- fitting piece of wood inside the window frame.
- Make sure all ladders are either indoors or locked up.
- Install lighting and motion sensors around your dwelling, particularly in the back yard area. (Rear alleys are a particular problem in the City.) The burglars need time to find the best place to break into a house. If the lights go on, they will often be deterred from trying that house. Also, the light going on triggered by their presence will hopefully encourage the thieves to choose another target. If a passing patrol car sees a motion sensor go on, they will give it immediate attention as it could be a suspect who triggered the motion sensor. (This does present Shabbos problems potentially.)
- Keep a key on a brightly colored key ring in your bedroom. Should you suspect someone is in your home, and you need to open the door to let the police in, you can throw the key to police through the window instead of walking to the front door to let the police in and possibly exposing yourself to danger.
- Jot down serial numbers of all valuable portable objects (laptop, DVD player, etc.) in case the burglars start stealing things other than money.
- Maintain trimmed hedges around the house to minimize places where a burglar might hide or duck from police view or your view.
- Photograph unusual jewelry, jewelry that is particularly important to you, silver, etc. The photos can be shown to pawn brokers in case of theft.
- Do not leave valuable objects in plain view in your car (e.g., cell phone, GPS, laptop, etc.). In addition, do not leave an extra key to that car, in the car, as the thief may find it and steal your car after breaking in. Do not leave a key to another car in your car (e.g., your second car) in case the thief gets into your car and finds the key and steals your other car.
- Secure your car with a club or kill switch. Dodge Caravans are known to be easy vehicles to steal, so owners are especially advised to secure these vehicles.
- Ask our respective police departments for a security assessment. They will send an officer who will look over your property and make suggestions on how to improve security. This process generally takes about an hour. For county residents in the Pikesville district, call (410) 887-6775. For City residents, call (410) 396-2466.
(Studio Baltimore – YWN)