With Thanksgiving break just around the corner, many students are planning to leave Boulder to visit home or go on vacation, which is the perfect time for burglars to strike.
“Nationally, the times around holidays, mostly Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is a rash of burglaries, and people need to take steps to protect themselves,” said Julie Brooks, Boulder Police Department public information officer.
Fear that the trend will continue this year has caused the police to emphasize the importance of awareness and safety steps.
“Lock all doors and windows, leave a light on a timer, have someone check on your house daily so a potential criminal can see traffic in and out of your house, and stop newspapers and mail,” Brooks said.
Not only are these important measures, but police ask that residents take a more uncommon approach to protecting their home.
“Something that is not thought of is not to announce to a lot of people that you will be leaving town,” Brooks said.
Taking pictures of valuables and keeping track of serial numbers for electronics is another safety step often overlooked.
“In case of a repossession, we can return the items to the owner; but unfortunately, catching the thief and finding the valuable is rare,” Brooks said.
Valuables, money and credit cards should also be taken with you or hidden to keep from being visible to a thief.
“Obviously, money, credit cards (or) any electronic item that can be pawned, and things that are easy to carry, like iPods and laptops, are the most common items that thieves look for,” Brooks said.
Since the start of school, there have been 94 residential burglaries in Boulder, several on the Hill, and this does not surprise the Boulder PD.
“At times, the Hill is the most targeted,” Brooks said. “Students have a lot on their minds and sometimes forget to lock their doors, which we are concerned with. We put out many public notices about locking doors and windows, especially when the resident is not home.”
It is a common misconception that these crimes happen only at night, and only through forced entry, Brooks said. According to the Boulder Police Web site, nationally, 52 percent of burglaries happen during the daytime hours.
“Most, a good majority, of the burglaries are non-forced entry,” Brooks said. “They are crimes of opportunity, and they look for unlocked doors and windows. We have had a lot of daytime burglaries when the resident isn’t home, and this gives the thief more time.”
If it is apparent that your home or apartment has been burglarized, the police have strict guidelines to follow.
“Notify the police right way, but most importantly, don’t touch anything,” Brooks said. “The possibility of getting good fingerprints depends on an untampered crime scene.”
While residential burglaries are common, the police still take every case seriously.
“Anybody who goes into someone else’s home uninvited is a concern for police,” Brooks said. “We always want to catch the bad guys.”
One student admitted that she didn’t follow every safety rule.
“I wouldn’t think to take pictures of my valuables, but I definitely lock the door all the time, even when I’m home,” said University of Denver law student Amy Frerich. “With bars on my windows, I’m guessing these break-ins have happened before.”
A Boulder resident also said she will never leave the house without locking the doors.
“I will always lock my doors every time I leave and when I come home,” said Hill resident Amanda Launer. “It does scare me that these criminals target homes during holiday breaks.”
For a detailed list of safety tips, the Boulder PD encourages residents to visit www.bouldercolorado.gov/police.