South Portland police urge awareness as burglaries spike

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Burglaries in the city have nearly doubled this year, and the Police Department is urging residents to take precautions. 

So far there have been 75 burglaries, compared with 45 last year, according to a department Facebook post earlier this month. Since Oct. 1, residents have reported 23 break-ins, Lt. Frank Clark said Tuesday. 

The highest concentration has been east of Anthoine Street, where the Police Department is located. 

There has also been a slight decline in the number of break-ins since the department posted the notice Dec. 2, Clark added.

To be fair, he said, 2015 yielded an unusually low burglary rate compared with 2013 and 2014, when there were 108 and 89 burglaries, respectively. 

“Truth be told, (2015) was kind of an abnormality for us in a good way,” he said. 

So far this year, no one has been injured during a burglary, Clark said, because residents have not been home when most of the break-ins occurred.

The burglaries have most often been reported by neighbors who happen to see something, he said.

“These kind of cases tend to be made on the keen observations of somebody in the public recognizing something suspicious in their neighborhood,” Clark said. “A lot of times somebody sees somebody walk up the neighbor’s driveway. They might knock on their door (and) walk around the back.”

It’s quite common for break-ins and burglaries to spike during the holiday season, Clark said, so he urged residents to take extra precautions beyond the obvious, such as locking doors and windows. 

Clark advised homeowners not to leave delivered packages outside for any length of time. Also, when disposing of trash after the holidays, packaging for expensive items received as gifts should not be left at the curb for pick up.

It’s also a good idea to leave some lights on in a house that will be vacant for a prolonged period, Clark said, adding that the Police Department offers house checks during vacations. 

“It’s that time of year,” he said. “Look out for your neighbors.”

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

Symbols on the map represent break-ins and robberies across South Portland between Nov. 14 and Dec. 14. Residents can track burglaries in their neighborhoods at communitycrimemap.com.

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.