by Sue Ann Rybak

A recent rash of burglaries in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill has residents on edge.

Several burglaries were reported on West Mt. Airy Avenue between Emelen and Wissahickon Ave. in September.

Dennis Nolan, who lives on West Mt. Airy Avenue near Wissahickon Avenue, said, “We were broken into about 20 years ago, so I know that sickening feeling when you come home and find that you have been violated. You never really feel completely safe again. We got a security alarm system and dogs after that, and I have not had any problems.”

Nolan said his neighbors are very concerned and have been looking out for one another. He added that residents want to do everything possible to protect their homes.

“We just want the police to catch these lowlife criminals and put them behind bars for many years,” Nolan said.

Captain Joel Dales, of the 14th Police District, said he has deployed additional officers in Mt.Airy and Chestnut Hill. While he could not give specifics, he said plainclothes police officers are currently patrolling the area in unmarked cars. Dales strongly encouraged residents to invest in security cameras.

“Cameras are a very effective deterrent and help us to catch criminals,” Dales said.

Dales said residents should take simple precautions like locking doors and windows, trimming shrubs around entrances and windows, leaving lights on, making sure house numbers are clearly marked and notifying the police when you will be away. Dales urged residents to call police to get a free survey to identify areas inside and outside of your house that may be vulnerable to break-ins. Residents can contact Officer Synell Hall at 215-685-2148.

“Residents should not hesitate to call police if they see suspicious behavior,” Dales said.

Sue Falco, who lives on West Highland Ave., recently had a man come to her door asking for money for the Mt. Airy Track Team. Falco asked him to leave and immediately called the police, who informed her that this individual has targeted neighbors in the past. Falco said Dales called her back on Friday morning to tell her they had identified the man who was scamming residents. Falco said while she is relieved he was not casing her house, she wanted to encourage residents to call police if they witness any suspicious behavior.

“Many people don’t know it is illegal to go door to door to solicit money from people,” Falco said. “Don’t think you are overstepping your boundaries by calling the police to report suspicious behavior.”

Falco praised Dales for returning her call.

“The police are trying, but they need the public’s help,” Falco said. “People can’t be afraid to get involved.”