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Westwood police warn residents after spike in home burglaries

Posted by Emily Files  October 11, 2012 05:05 PM

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An unusually high number of burglaries in Westwood prompted the police department on Wednesday night to take a step it has rarely used: a reverse 911 call that left a recorded message on every residential land line.

There have been 38 home burglaries in Westwood since the start of the year. Police said on Thursday that they did not have statistics from previous years immediately available, but the number is noticeably higher than usual.

Westwood Police Detective Paul Toland said police made four arrests this year in various house break-ins, but those arrests have not significantly decreased the number of burglaries. He said there are “some similarities” among the dozens of incidents, and there are “ongoing investigations” looking into those similarities. Jewelry and gold are among the most common items stolen.

The town sometimes uses this reverse 911 system to spread the word about voting opportunities or flu clinics. But Wednesday's call was aimed at preventing crime.

“The call was to alert residents to the nature of the activity and to request some attention to home security practices,” Toland said. “[It encouraged] people to secure their homes in their absence and when they go to bed at night and to kindly activate their alarm system if they have one.”

Toland said the call also asked residents to notify the police if they see any unfamiliar vehicles or people. Residents seem to have listened, Toland said. The department has received a “large number” of calls today about suspicious or unfamiliar people and cars.

“None have resulted in anything that rises to the level of arrest,” Toland said of the phone tips. “But it’s helpful to have that increased level of awareness.”

He said police are enacting “proactive measures,” such as bolstering patrols to try to curtail the break-ins.

When asked whether he thought if Westwood has been targeted for the burglaries, Toland said he thinks other towns and cities in the area are seeing similar increases and that it seems to be a “regional issue.”

Emily Files can be reached at emily.files@globe.com.

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