WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – With schools officially out for summer, countless families throughout Westchester County will be taking advantage of the warm weather and time off on various vacations, leading to local officials and police to warn potential travelers to protect their homes from opportunistic burglars.
Burglaries have plagued police in Westchester municipalities small and large, including a rash of smaller break-ins in Eastchester , Scarsdale and North Salem, and an interrupted burglary in Mount Vernon that led to the death of a beloved 85-year-old resident last year.
As recently as May 25, Bryan Mitchell, a 20-year-old homeless man, was detained by Greenburgh police after being caught burglarizing a home in Edgemont and chased for several blocks by the homeowner and several of her East Hartsdale Avenue neighbors. In April, Purdys resident Michael Krisa, 30, was arrested following a string of burglaries he is accused of masterminding.
“The most common threat to residential home safety is burglary, but it is also the easiest crime to prevent. The normal burglary (modus operandi) is daytime invasion when no one is home and most often in the summer months,” Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin said following a series of village break-ins earlier this year.
“Small, yet valuable goods that can be fenced or pawned – laptops, electronic gadgets, watches, jewelry and cash – are the cache of choice. As a precaution they should never be left in areas easily seen from a door or window.”
According to the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, in an effort to prevent burglaries during the summer, homeowners should ensure that all doors and windows are locked when leaving the house, with a “solid core or metal door at all entrance points,” that can’t be kicked in or forced open. Extra caution should also be used on sliding glass and garage doors. Windows can also be pinned for added security by “drilling a 3/16-inch hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame and placing a nail to secure the window.”
Other tips include leaving lights on when going out, and setting timers to select lamps to turn them on and off during the day, and installing exterior lighting and motion-sensitive lights. Deliveries of mail and newspapers should not build up during extended vacations, landscaping routines should be continued and any keys in “secret hiding places” should be removed when going away.
During the summer, police departments are set to increase local patrols, when homeowners are most vulnerable, though they’ve warned that all residents should be on high alert, with alarm systems activated and doors and windows locked at all times.
“Full activation will result in quicker notification to the police department in the event of unlawful entry,” according to Bronxville Police Chief Christopher Satriale, who said he noticed an increased number of false alarms and increased usage of interior and exterior lights as residents in the village became more mindful of several recent burglaries.
“Contrary to popular thinking, burglaries are most often planned. The main pre-requisite is easy access,” Marvin added. “Burglars often target homes and then observe the neighborhood for daily activity. This is the reason why it is imperative to call the police desk if you notice anything out of the ordinary in the neighborhood.”
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