Safeguard Against Thieves During Holiday Season

With the gift-giving season upon us, public officials urge people to take extra safety precautions tied to holiday events.
Police Chief John Incontro said he encourages residents to be conscious of the increased potential for thefts and burglaries, given that gifts people order and receive are often expensive and desirous.
“We’re anticipating an issue or two because of the number of packages being delivered,” Incontro said in a phone interview. “That’s always a concern.”
Incontro said he advises residents ordering items from the internet to note special delivery locations not in public view in order to hide them from potential thieves. Reports of mail theft have consistently been included in weekly police reports, ranging from new credit cards to packages containing such electronics as cellphones.
As always, he added, residents should ensure their homes have locked doors and windows and activated security systems, if applicable. Vehicles also should be locked, no matter where they are and for how long. Valuable items should also not be left in vehicles for extended periods of time.
In a quarterly report presented to the City Council last month, Incontro said reported crime in the city had fallen by about 13% in the third quarter from the second quarter, but noted that it was still up by 6% year-to-date. Notably, residential burglaries fell by about 25% from the second quarter to the third.
“Hopefully the current trend [of decreasing by quarter] will hold,” Incontro said last week.
Those increased crimes include mail thefts and thefts from unlocked vehicles, he added.
Last November and December, Incontro said his officers investigated 23 thefts, including 14 from parked vehicles and 16 residential burglaries, half of which were attempted and the other half completed.
Incontro said he will periodically speak about these precautions to local groups and organizations to spread awareness of the precautions. He also intends to put out the message in the city’s newsletter and when he speaks at future City Council meetings, he said.
“We’ll put out that information and hopefully folks will listen to us,” he said.
Incontro also noted he was working to remove “false alarm fees” that have been levied in the past against residents whose security systems were falsely triggered and attracted police response. He said this has resulted in some homeowners remotely canceling alarms triggered shortly after they’ve left home, believing them to have been accidentally activated.
In speaking with security system manufacturers and retailers, Incontro said reliability issues that existed with such systems early in their inception have largely been eliminated.
“Looking at our burglaries this year, I found about six to eight instances where the homeowners canceled the alarm when they weren’t home and it ended up resulting in a burglary,” he added. “I just think this isn’t something we should be charging people for.”
The police department also will perform house checks for any residents out of town and will happily investigate any reports of suspicious activity or vehicles in any area.
“Most of the time it’s nothing, but we appreciate that people are calling us,” Incontro said.

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