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April 3, 2013

Police warn about recent rise in home break-ins

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — Police are asking residents to be on guard after an increase in home invasions.

From March 21-24, Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm said, three homes were broken into in the northeast section of the city — the 1500 block of Pondside, the 1400 block of Ramblewood and the 1600 block of Chase. In all cases, the suspect — or suspects — stole jewelry and were able to gain entry by prying open back windows.

“These were in the early to late evening hours, which is a little bit unusual. A lot of times, they are during the day when people are away at work,” he said.

And Rochester isn’t alone. In the last month, Schettenhelm said, multiple break-ins have been reported in Rochester Hills, Shelby Township and Troy.

Schettenhelm wants the public to know that the Rochester Police Department is aware of the problem and is working with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office’s Rochester Hills substation on a few investigative leads and will be providing extra patrols.

In the most recent case, he said, there is some physical evidence that was collected by evidence technicians that will be further processed with the hope of leading to the identification of the suspect or suspects.

In the meantime, Schettenhelm encourages residents to be more aware of their surroundings.

Residents can safeguard their homes by making sure they are secure and that all doors and windows are locked before they leave, that the garage door is down, and that all cars are locked and in the driveway or in the garage at night. He said exterior lighting is also an excellent crime-prevention tool.

“And a lot of times, keeping a talk radio on inside while you are away, so that there is some sound inside the house, can be helpful,” he added.

Those who plan to head off on vacation can call the Rochester Police Department to have their homes placed on the Vacation Watch List. To sign up, all Rochester residents have to do is call the department’s dispatch line, (248) 651-9621, and notify the dispatcher that they want their house put on the list.

“It’s an opportunity, while the officers are out on patrol, to look at those homes a little extra, and if time allows, walk around and make sure that everything is secure,” Schettenhelm said.

The chief offered up some additional tips that people heading out of town should keep mind so their homes don’t look like targets. He suggests hiring a lawn service or asking a friend to cut your grass, having your lights on timers for a lived-in appearance, and having the post office put mail and newspaper delivery on hold.

As always, residents are encouraged to contact the Police Department if they notice any suspicious people or vehicles in the area.

“If you have a doubt and it looks unusual, it certainly doesn’t hurt to give us a call and have an officer come out just to check the area,” Schettenhelm said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.