by Sue Ann Rybak

Lt. Michael Kopecki speaks at PSA4 Meeting held at the Chestnut Hill Library on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. regarding recent burglaries. Sue Ann Rybak

“Thieves like to window shop, too!”
So said a bright orange flyer on the table at the 14th Police District PSA4 (Patrol Sector Area 4) meeting held Wednesday night at the Chestnut Hill Library, 8711 Germantown Ave.  Approximately 35 residents came out to address concerns about recent burglaries and auto thefts in the neighborhood.

“Don’t leave items in your car,” said Officer Synell Hall, the crime prevention officer for our area. “The only thing standing between the thief and your belongings is glass. If you have to leave something valuable in your car hide it.”

So far this year, police said there have been 44 thefts from autos in PSA4, Laptops were among the number one items stolen from automobiles.  Other items stolen from automobiles included wallets, pocketbooks, iPhones and GPS systems. Police estimate the loss of property to be equal to $18,727.

Officer Hall gave a Power Point presentation on how not to become a victim of property crime.  “Be Pro-Active,” Officer Hall said. “Harden your target.”

Since the beginning of 2011, 31 homes were broken into in Chestnut Hill, said Hall. Police estimated the property loss from the reported burglaries to be about $13,030.

In most cases burglars enter your home through open windows, front, back or garage doors, Hall said. She suggested residents be proactive and take steps to secure their residence:

-Update your personal information with your home security alarm company
-Get involved in town watch
-Always lock your car- even when it is in your garage
-Do not leave tools outside your house-the burglar may use them to break into your home
-Don’t leave windows open
-Make sure your address number is visible and marked in both the front and rear of the house.  In case of an emergency, police and medical personnel can quickly identify your property
-Eliminate sources of cover by keeping the bushes trimmed and maintaining well-lighted walkways
-Use deadbolts with 3-point locking to provide maximum protection.

Officer Hall discussed lock bumping or key bumping, which is a lock picking technique used to unlock standard pin tumbler cylinders with a bump key.  About 1 in 50 keys are identical, Hall said. They can be copied at any hardware store. Hall suggested residents buy high quality bump resistant locks such as those made by Medeco.

“Crime prevention is everybody’s business,” Hall said.

Community involvement is key

One way to stay informed is to join such websites as spotcrime.com or everyblock.com.  Everyblock.com provides daily e-mail about recent crimes in your zip code.

Residents need to be vigilant about what is going on in their neighborhood and become involved in their community, said PSA4’s Lt. Michael Kopecki.

“You live in your neighborhood you know what is out of the ordinary,” said Lt. Michael Kopecki. “If something looks suspicious, call 911.  Give us the opportunity to assess the situation,”  Lt. Kopecki said.

“If you do become a victim of crime stay in touch with the district attorney and be involved in that court case. Too many times criminals don’t go to jail because witnesses don’t show up in court,” 14th District Captain Joel Dales said.

An attendee voiced her frustration over the lack of community involvement in helping to prevent the recent burglaries. Some residents also voiced their concerns about nuisance behavior such as flash mobs, loitering and disruptive behavior.

Candidates weigh in

Robin Tasco, a candidate for city council for the 8th district attended the meeting.

“I thought the lieutenant was right on point. The police can’t do all the work. The community has to be involved in helping to prevent crime. It’s our community,” Robin Tasco said.

Another democratic candidate for City Council Greg Paulmier also attended the meeting.

“It was a very productive meeting. The issues being discussed are not just police issues but city issues,”  Paulmier said. People need to hold their elected officials accountable and get them involved in these issues, Paulmier said.

Ernest Luqman, a Chestnut Hill resident said people must become active citizens in their community.

“What is going on in the community is an overflow of what is happening in our homes. In order to improve our community, we must improve our individual character,” he said.

The next PSA4 meeting will be held on April 26 at 7 p.m. at Oxford Presbyterian Church, 8501 Stenton Avenue.