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Burglar strikes while Portland family enjoys fireworks

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Burglar strikes while Portland family enjoys fireworks

PORTLAND — While Kate Nelson, James Brown and the couple's three daughters enjoyed Independence Day with hundreds of other families on Munjoy Hill, someone was helping themselves to the family's possessions.

"We got up on (July 5) and noticed things were missing," Nelson said. Among the items gone from the family's Upland Street home were a DVD player, a Play Station 2, a pair of diamond earrings and Nelson's favorite sunglasses.

"My oldest daughter, though, got it the worst," Nelson said. Her daughter, Haley, had the complete series of the television show "Angel" stolen, along with some "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" DVDs. 

Police went to the family's home and took a report. Nelson said she didn't think the police would be able to do anything, and was surprised when they detailed each missing item and even took fingerprints.

"The police officer was really, really nice about it," she said. "He said if anyone tried to sell something at a pawn shop, it would be ID'd."

Portland Police Sgt. Kevin Cashman said the burglary was the only one reported in the Veranda Street neighborhood over the weekend, and that there is not a rash of burglaries right now.

"Fortunately, it was a quiet weekend," said Cashman. "Pretty steady, but quiet."

The sergeant said most home and car break-ins happen when doors are left unlocked. He said residents should always lock doors and get to know their neighbors. 

"If you see anything suspicious, don't hesitate to call us," he said.

Because most of her neighbors were also out celebrating on the Fourth of July, no one saw the burglar enter the Nelson and Brown home. The family was gone from 11 a.m. to about 10:30 p.m. And unfortunately, breaking in was not necessary, because the door was unlocked.

Police have several safety tips for homeowners to avoid being burglarized. Those tips include:

•  Use the locks you have. Always lock up when you go out, even if only for a few minutes.

•  Make sure your windows have good locks, particularly those at ground level.

•  Make sure all porches, entrances and outside areas are well lighted.

•  Trim bushes that hide windows and doors, and don't leave ladders and tools out.

•  Don't hide keys under the doormat or flowerpot.

•  Record serial numbers on valuables like televisions and DVD players.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net