Crime watch: String of car breaks has WPD’s attention – Chief asks for help in preventing thefts and identifying suspicious people

Saturday, December 19, 2009
By Joe Domelowicz

During a recent two-day period in Winthrop, residents reported 13 car break-ins across the town, many of which resulted in stolen property and nearly all of which could have been prevented if the car owners had simply locked their cars.

“The tough thing for us, is that the break-ins haven’t taken place in just one or two neighborhoods,” explained Winthrop Police Chief Terrence Delehanty. “The reports have really been from all over town and nearly all of the break-ins have been to cars that were left unlocked by their owners. There have not been any broken windows or broken locks and no car alarms going off. It really seems as those these subjects are going around trying doors and then looking through the cars that are opened.”

Chief Delehanty also said that the types of property that has been taken has been far ranging as well – GPS units, a bowling ball, loose change and even a car full of Christmas presents have all been reported stolen – suggesting that these are simply crimes of opportunity and that the public could do a lot to protect itself by taking some simple precautions.

“First of all, we suggest that people lock their doors,” said the Chief. “Obviously, this is a hectic time of year and even people who are shopping should be mindful not to leave their Christmas presents in the back of their cars. If you have to drop some bags of presents in your car while you are shopping, lock them in the trunk, where it is harder for thieves to break into.”

Delehanty also suggested removing anything of value, including GPS unit holders.

“In some cases people have reported that their cars were gone through, and we suspect it was because they’d left their GPS holders in plain view. The suspects are going through the cars looking for the units, because they see the holder and are hoping they can find the unit as well,” he explained.

Car owners are also reminded to use car alarm systems if you have them, and residents are asked to be on the lookout for unfamiliar people and suspicious activity, especially in the late night, or early morning hours.

“The majority of these break-ins seem to be talking place in the early morning hours from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.,” said Chief Delehanty. “we’re asking residents, if you are up at that time and you see someone walking down your street with a backpack or looking into cars, call us, we have to build a database, find out who is out there operating at those times and figure out who is doing this.”

In the meantime, Delehanty also cautioned that residents should not take it upon themselves to confront people who they believe are acting suspiciously.

“A lot of times these types of crimes are financially motivated, the people doing this need the money and often there is a substance abuse or addiction problem involved as well,” he said. “So we just ask that you call the police department and share the information you have with us, so that we can do our jobs.”

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