TEWKSBURY — Recent home robberies and car break-ins in Tewksbury have prompted residents to step up their awareness of activity in their neighborhoods and communicate more closely with those around them.
The Tewksbury Police Department has consistently offered advice to residents on ways to keep their property and vehicles safe, however, residents need to meet them halfway and secure their items and lock their doors to thwart thieves.
According to Detective Lieutenant Brian Farnum, simple steps can make a difference in deterring a would-be criminal. First and foremost, Farnum acknowledged that home robberies can be challenging to solve.
“These are often during the day, when no one is home,” said Farnum.
Sometimes a solicitor goes door to door, knocking to see if anyone is home. Residents are reminded that business solicitors must have a permit through the town and they should not hesitate to ask to see it.
The police suggest that visible symbols of protection such as camera doorbells, outdoor cameras, and stickers or signage can go a long way toward announcing that a home is alarmed. Farnum said motion lights are another measure residents can employ to keep their property safe, along with audible alarms.
“A thief will run away if they hear an alarm go off,” said Farnum.
Keeping shrubs and bushes near the home neat and trimmed is another smart move.
“Lower bushes remove cover that a would-be burglar might use to try to stay undetected,” Farnum said.
Car break-ins have also been an issue. In August, the TPD apprehended a group of four individuals who were breaking in to cars. Vehicle break-ins had occurred at The Lodge at Ames Hill, The Residence at Joan’s Farm, Navillus Road and Kennedy Road.
“Lock your car and don’t leave valuables inside,” said Detective Sergeant Michael McLaughlin. “People leave expensive sunglasses, laptops, cash, phones, and their keys in their cars, then don’t lock it.”
“People need to take that extra moment and bring their stuff inside,” McLaughlin added.
The Tewksbury Police Department also states on its website that residents should not leave an extra key in the car; “if a spare key is in the vehicle, they will be able to steal it.”
The trend for the last five years, in general, has been a reduction in burglaries according to TPD data. Car B&Es have also been on a downward trend, but that does not mean residents should be complacent. 14 home breaks have been reported in 2021 so far, down from 16 for the same time last year, and are half of what they were at the same time in 2017.
Farnum also said that there is no substitute for knowing your neighbors.
“Communicate with your neighbors; look out for each other; let them know if you are going away,” said Farnum.
The detective said that the police department will do extra drive-bys in a neighborhood if a resident lets them know that they are going to be away.
Additional measures for protecting your home, according to Farnum, include the use of deadbolts, a slider lock or wooden pole in the track, and not broadcasting your business on social media.
“People post online while they are on vacation, as do their kids,” said Farnum.
Additional advice the department shares includes stopping mail through the post office, having a friend or relative bring in trash barrels, and having someone collect any packages from your front steps.
Farnum said that much crime is fueled by addiction, and thieves are looking for quickly pawnable merchandise such as jewelry.
“Take an inventory and have photos of your valuables,” suggested Farnum, explaining that the master bedroom of the home is often where jewelry is stored, and usually the place a thief will check first.
Get creative. A safe, anchored to the floor is good to have, or consider non-obvious hiding places. Jewelry is often pawned, and shops can melt down items received after 30 days, so having photos is critical for recovery.
Farnum also said that alternate marketplaces such as Ebay and Facebook make recovering valuables even harder.
Farnum said that a detective is assigned to every house or car break in, and a complete crime scene processing is conducted, including biological evidence such as fingerprints or blood, canvassing the area for video evidence, etc.
Farnum said that if a homeowner should discover they’ve been robbed, don’t touch anything, leave the home immediately and call 911.
The Tewksbury Police Department urges any citizens who suspect criminal activity to call the Dispatch Center at 978-851-7373. If you wish to remain anonymous, please call the Tip Line at 978-851-0175 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.