Burglaries were down in Milton for the month of October, numbers that police largely credit to public awareness.
According to Milton Police Chief Richard Wells, August saw a record number of house breaks with 18 reports. In September, typically the town’s highest month for burglaries, numbers dropped to 13. October’s numbers were better still, with five.
The drop comes after months of public awareness campaigns in neighborhoods and on social media, and is largely attributed to the public's being aware and calling in suspicious activity.
“[It’s] paying attention to your neighborhood, street, taking notice of someone showing up and walking down a driveway…95 percent of these breaks happen weekdays and [during] work hours, it’s almost always [through] a back door and back window,” Wells said.
Calls in to police are up in general. In 1992, there were 619 calls to police for suspicious activity. In 2012, more than 2,000 calls came in in that category.
Those numbers don’t include other forms of communication from residents, which include e-mail tip lines, messages on social media sites, and more.
The other part of the burglary decline can be attributed to police work, Wells said, both in the progress made investigating open cases of burglaries and in other policing strategies.
“Part of it is our change in strategies here. Taking what we do and shifting our strategies to focus on times and locations breaks occur…they have been a half-dozen different things we’ve used to do this,” Wells said, though he declined to specify for fear of giving criminals the leg up in committing crimes.
The numbers are auspicious, especially as burglaries have been on the rise for the past five years in Metro Boston, Wells said.
Milton is particularly vulnerable, not only due to its location on several major highways and roads, but the nature of the community, where homes are empty during the day when the occupants leave for work.
Lately, however, some breaks have occurred at night while homeowners are asleep. Six such breaks happened over a three-week period in August. House breaks in general were getting unusually high when police started the outreach.
“It’s almost totally driven by drug-dependent individuals. Usually they are addicted to Oxycodone or heroin and need to support the habits. …we saw this year that our numbers were going pretty high. We really aggressively did everything we could to involve the community,” Wells said.
With a recent Facebook message applauding the good work, Wells wanted to make sure the public knows that police appreciate their efforts.
Yet just because numbers are down, that doesn’t mean residents can’t be any less vigilant.
“The message we try to say is nice job, but don’t sit on your laurels … it’s a constant battle,” Wells said.
To receive more information on how to protect your home from theft, call the police station at (617) 698-3800.