String of Burglaries Hits Houses and Garages

A rash of burglaries hit Georgetown last week between Aug. 2 and Aug. 5, most of which involved garages with unlocked doors on the west side of town. It seems some residents have forgotten that individuals creep around, looking for easy opportunities to steal, and have gotten lax about locking up.

Announcing that it has "increased uniformed police patrols in the residential area of Georgetown," the Metropolitan Police Department listed the crimes online. They include:

= second-degree burglary (armed or otherwise), 3000 - 3099 block of N Street, residence/home, two (2) bicycles stolen, no signs of forced entry;

= second-degree burglary (armed or otherwise), 3400 - 3499 block of Prospect Street, parking lot/garage, unknown suspect(s) entered an unlocked garage (not attached to the residence) and stole a bicycle and electronic equipment from a parked vehicle (unlocked doors) in the garage;

= second-degree burglary (armed or otherwise), 3300 - 3399 block of Dent Place, NW, single-family dwelling, unknown suspect(s) entered an unlocked garage and stole a bicycle. (The suspects also rummaged through a parked vehicle in the garage. Nothing was reported stolen from the parked vehicle);

= second-degree burglary (armed or otherwise), 3300 - 3399 block of Dent Place, NW, single-family dwelling, unknown suspect(s) entered an unlocked garage and then rummaged through a parked vehicle stealing coin currency from the vehicle.

There was also a burglary reported at the Georgetown University dormitory on the 3600 block of O Street. Again, the police wrote down, "No signs of forced entry."

Not all places were easy hits. An N Street resident on the 3400 block, whose garage shares an alley with garages from the 3400 block of Prospect Street, wrote on a town message board: "Last night, our garage was broken into. Although the cars were rifled through, limited property was removed. We have notified the police but wanted to let the neighborhood know and, in particular, residents of the south side of the 3400 block on N street, since the only way the thieves would have been able to enter the garage as they did (i.e, from the garden) would have been to go through other backyards on that block and jump the fences."

One Prospect Street home-owner summed up the crime on his property: "We have a garage on the same alley (house on Prospect between 34th and 35th) and we had a garage break-in as well and did lose items both from within cars and a high-end racing bicycle. [Next door's] garage was rifled through as well. It appears a bike was left behind in the alley and that my racing bike was used as an 'upgrade' for the thief. Due to the value of items stolen, a crime unit responded to take fingerprints but found no good, clean, untouched locations to take from. We have a tendency to not lock the door accessing the garage from the yard, because, well, the only way into the yard is to be hopping fences from a neighbor yard, but that appears to be what occurred here. Adding insult to injury, the bikes are typically locked within the garage but not that night, and we have the garage wired for video surveillance to trigger on motion, but it was not enabled. Lesson learned."

If the reader cares to review crime prevention tips he most likely learned long ago, the following is timely and timeless advice from D.C. police.

Burglary Prevention

Have you ever been locked out of your home? Were you able to get in anyway? No w think about it…if you could break into your own home, it's just as easy for someone else to break in, too. One out of 10 homes will be burglarized this year, and many intruders will spend no more than 60 seconds trying to break into a home. The best prediction of a future burglary is a past burglary. Therefore, it is important to take preventative measures now. Strong locks—and good neighbors who look out for one another—can be effective deterrents to burglars. Here are a few tips that can help you keep you—and your property—safe and secure.

Check Your Locks

• Make sure every external door has a strong, well-installed dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.

• Sliding glass doors offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door or by installing commercially available locks. To prevent the door being lifted off of the track, drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.

• Lock double-hung windows with key locks or "pin" your windows by drilling a small hole at a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. You should secure basement windows with grilles or grates (but make sure that they can be opened from the inside in case of fire).

• Never hide keys around the outside of your home. Instead, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.

• When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.

Check Your Doors

While we all like to feel that once we close and lock our doors, we’re safe and secure, the truth of the matter is that a lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down with your wallet on the front seat.

• All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.

• Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so that you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break easily and don’t keep out intruders.

• If your doors don’t fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them. Check the Outside

Take a look at your home from the outside, and keep in mind the following tips to help make your home as safe as it can be:

• Burglars hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night. Motion-detector lights can be particularly effective.

• Keep your yard clean. Prune shrubbery so it doesn’t hide windows or doors. Cut back tree limbs that a burglar could use to climb to an upper-level window.

• If you travel, create the illusion that you are at home by getting timers that will turn lights (and perhaps a television or radio) on and off in different parts of your home throughout the day and evening hours. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.

• Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. And make sure you don’t let your mail and/or newspapers pile up. Call the post office and newspaper to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick them up.

• Make a list of your valuables, such as VCRs, stereos, computers, and jewelry. Take pictures of the items, list their serial numbers and description. This will help police if your home is burglarized.

• Ask your District police station for a free home security survey.

• When getting work done on your vehicle, leave only the vehicle key for the service personnel. The same goes for car park attendants and valets.

• If you are having work done on your vehicle, give the service station your business address – not your home address. Burglars Can Do More Than Just Steal

While most burglars prefer to strike when no one is home, intruders can commit other crimes such as rape, robbery, and assault if they are surprised by someone entering the home, or if they pick a home that is occupied.

• If something looks questionable – a slit screen, a broken window or an open door – don’t go in. Call the police from a neighbor’s house, a cell phone, or a public phone.

• At night, if you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call the police. If you can’t leave, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call the police. If an intruder is in your room, pretend you are asleep.

• One other important note – never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates that you may not be at home, or that you live alone. Instead, say “We’re not available right now.”

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