Following recent reported break-ins in the township and across the area the Howell Police Department is providing residents with some suggestions about how to keep themselves and their property safe.
Detective Sgt. Eileen Dodd said in a statement also posted on the department's Facebook page that the most commonly taken items include jewelry and money as well as small electronics. Dodd said with used jewelry able to be exchanged easily at jewelry stores the stolen items can be sold or traded for illegal drugs on the streets.
"Generally the thieves are drug users looking for quick cash," Dodd said. "They are not looking for a confrontation." That usually means them knocking on doors to see if residents are home, she added. When houses are shielded from the road Dodd said that is when they try to break in through a front door or a window "but in most cases they will walk around to the back of the house."
Dodd said if residents have alarm systems they are encouraged to use the. "If you don't turn it on, it is useless," she said. Residents are also encouraged to remove "the majority of your jewelry from your bedroom and lock it up somewhere else. Otherwise, "If your home is burglarized a small jewelry box on your dresser with some jewelry will capture the thieves attention while the majority of your jewelry is safe elsewhere."
Dodd said if someone answers the door the people will generally ask them a simple question like "Can you tell me how to get to Route 9?" and then move on to another house. "We have had cases where someone leaves for 15 minutes, only to return home and find their house burglarized," Dodd said.
If someone does come to your door claiming to sell something Dodd said to make sure they have a permit from the township. Contractors also need a permit which requires a criminal and background check which is handled by the department.
Residents, she said, are encouraged to be on the lookout for people walking, cars parked with someone in them, or cars circling the neighborhood. That includes females even though "many people assume they are harmless." Dodd said, "A number of our burglars are female, and others are male, many are clean cut, neatly dressed adults."
If you see a suspicious vehicle Dodd said residents are encouraged to not the license plate and take a picture of the plate or the person and call the Howell Police Department with their concerns. "Trust your instincts," she said.
There is not one specific neighborhood being targeted according to Dodd, "It's all over." She said. Since the start of the year Dodd said they have seen roughly 14 burglaries per month with the number sometimes higher or lower.
Residents are encouraged to call 911 in emergency situations. Those with non-emergencies are encouraged to call the department at 732-938-411.