Police give tips for protecting against burglary, scams

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Dec. 7, 2012
Agent James Kennedy of the Glastonbury Police Deparment talks to seniors about safeguarding their homes against burglaries. Photo by Steve Smith.
Agent James Kennedy of the Glastonbury Police Deparment talks to seniors about safeguarding their homes against burglaries. Photo by Steve Smith.

Citing recent burglaries in Glastonbury and concern among local residents, Agent James Kennedy of the Glastonbury Police Department spoke at the Glastonbury Senior Center on Dec. 5, telling residents of ways they can keep themselves and their valuables safer. Kennedy said that the economy is the main reason behind the increase in thefts, burglaries and scams, but there are ways that people can make themselves less of a target.

Most burglaries are committed during the day, Kennedy said. In a lot of cases, doors are left unlocked or weak, inadequate locks and deadbolts are installed on the doors. Windows are left open or ajar. “Let's not make it easy,” he said, adding that once inside the house, a burglar will look in the most common places for valuables. What residents need to do is to think less-conventionally.

We need to make sure doors are locked at night, as well as during the day, Kennedy said. “When someone comes to your door, if you didn't ask for them to come, don't open the door,” he said, adding that, when in doubt, one can call the police's routine number.

Kennedy recommends getting an alarm system – at least one that monitors the doors and first-story windows, but there are other ways to make homes safer, including good sash-locks for windows, strong deadbolts for doors, and dowels for sliding doors.

Keeping cash and other valuables in easy places to find just makes it easy for thieves. “If you have cash on hand, you don't want to keep it where you pay your bills and where you keep all of your financial information,” Kennedy said. “How about putting it in a plastic bag and keeping it under the ground meat inside your freezer? Who's going to look in there? Or, take an ice cream container, clean it out really nice, and put your money in there. Think out of the box.”

Jewelry boxes are almost always on a bedroom dresser. Kennedy recommends finding a better place to put them, such as above a ceiling tile. There are also devices like fake food cans available which can be used to hide valuables in a pantry. “Think of somewhere where no one is going to think to look,” he said.

Kennedy said the likelihood that a burglar will tear apart a house looking for valuables is small, because they rarely want to spend a lot of time there.

Gold, Kennedy said, is of high value at the moment, making it a more-commonly stolen item.

“Most of these burglaries have had the same kind of M.O.,” Kennedy said. “It's a quick-in, quick-out of an unoccupied house, so they can get quick jewelry so they can go pawn it.”

Pawn shops, Kennedy said, are unfortunately making the police's job more difficult. “Stuff is stolen out of people's homes, they take it to the pawn shops, and it's melted down,” he said, “and then we don't have any evidence left.”

Phone scams are also still fairly common, and being careful about who you talk to and why is still the key to protecting yourself. “The information they are getting about you is coming from you,” Kennedy said, referring to phone scams that start with a person calling under the pretense of conducting a survey or as some sort of service or sales call, and asking questions. Later, perhaps even a year or more down the road, that information can be used to trick an unwitting mark.

Kennedy said a common scam is that the caller pretends to be a person's relative and says they've been arrested and need bail money – or pretends to be a police officer and claims that bail money needs to be sent on that relative's behalf. “That does not happen,” Kennedy said. “If I arrest a person, I'm not calling you for bail. That person calls a bail bondsman.”

Whether suspicious about a phone call, or something unusual going on in your neighborhood, Kennedy said it's always a good idea to call the police so they can check things out. “We do our best work when you contact us,” Kennedy said. “You are our eyes and ears out in the community.”

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