Lincoln battles surge in property theft

This story was published on Aug. 20, 2008 on Page B3 in edition 3 of the Bangor Daily News

LINCOLN – Cell phones. Loose change. Cash. Prescription drugs. Unlocked doors. Open garages. Rolled-down vehicle windows. And someone trying to maintain a drug habit.

Put all of that together and you get what Lincoln has experienced since July 1 – a large spike in what police call crimes of opportunity, thefts occurring because of the absence of elementary security precautions.

From July 1 to Aug. 14, 39 thefts targeting automobiles, houses, camps and garages have been reported, with at least another having occurred since then, Police Chief William Flagg said Tuesday.

That’s why Flagg asked residents to lock all doors and windows and to report any suspicious people or activities in and around their homes by calling police at 794-2221.

“What we do as homeowners to make it more difficult for them [thieves] will greatly reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of these crimes,” Flagg said Tuesday.

Police are working to tabulate the number and worth of the valuables stolen, but typically the valuables taken in individual burglaries are worth no more than $300, said Officer Richard York, a lead investigator on the thefts with Officer Chad Chubbuck.

The valuables usually have been items that can be turned into cash easily.

Police declined to say whether the crimes are linked, but the majority have occurred in and around downtown Lincoln. Some have been reported as far from there as Long Pond, Flagg said.

In almost all cases, the crimes involved windows or doors left unlocked. In one case, on Main Street on Aug. 14, a homeowner confronted a burglar inside the homeowner’s garage at 4 a.m. after hearing noise. The homeowner chased the suspect away, Flagg said.

Police are concerned that many more crimes or other suspicious activities have gone unreported because homeowners don’t feel like calling police. But they should call, no matter how trivial the matter may seem, Flagg said.

“That’s what we’re here for. What might seem trivial could actually help us to make a case,” he said.

Police also can review residences and garages to help homeowners make them more secure, Flagg said.

nsambides@bangordailynews.net

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DON’T BE A VICTIM

Steps you can take to avoid burglaries or other property thefts:

. Lock doors, windows and garage doors and be sure valuables such as guns, electronic devices, ladders and artwork are not readily visible in your vehicle or from the street.

. Use motion-sensor lights mounted out of easy reach, and trim vegetation near doors and windows so burglars can’t hide in the shadows.

. Work with neighbors to notice strangers and strange events.

. Tell police of impending vacations and don’t let materials accumulate in your mailbox.

. Engrave and keep records of your valuables’ serial numbers.

. Consider buying a car or home alarm system.

. Telephone police regarding any suspicious activity.

Source: Lincoln Police Department