In response to a recent trend of home invasions in the city of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones held a meeting last night to inform members of the community on ways they can keep their homes safe.
Speaking to an audience of about 150 residents at Clague Middle School, Jones said there have been about 82 home invasions and instances of breaking and entering between Jan. 1 and Feb. 18. Thirteen of the incidents occurred within the first week of the year, and Jones said the unusually high number was the first indicator of a growing problem.
According to Jones, about 66 of the home invasions were completed, while about 16 were attempts foiled by a resident or some other deterrent. 49 percent of the home invasions occurred through the front door of a residence, and of these cases nearly 42 percent of doors were left unlocked.
Jones stressed that residents lock their doors and windows when they leave their house or apartment, in order to prevent crimes against their homes.
“People are utilizing the goodness of us — and the fact that some of us don’t like to lock our doors and our windows — to take advantage of us,” Jones said.
Jones added that a warmer than usual winter has enticed robbers who would otherwise hold off during the colder months.
“(In the winter) crime generally goes down in every community including ours,” Jones said. “But this year, crime went up.”
During the talk, Jones advised residents to outfit their homes with better locks, alarm systems and other equipment in order to prevent and deter crime. However, since most students rent homes near campus, they may not be able to add security measures to their residence.
Jones also noted that wireless, non-permanent alarm systems can be installed in homes and apartments, and emphasized that closing blinds and locking doors is the first line of defense against burglary. He emphasized that a home that does not appear vacant is less likely to be preyed upon.
Besides protecting their own homes, Jones stressed that residents report any suspicious behavior to police by calling 911.
In an interview after the event, Jones said AAPD will continue to work with the University to inform students of the importance of keeping their residences safe. The University’s Department of Public Safety sent students a crime alert about the home invasions on Feb. 17.
Dave Monroe, the AAPD detective who is investigating the burglaries, said though it is difficult to approximate how many of the victimized homes were occupied by students, students often aren’t as careful in securing their residences because they only live in Ann Arbor temporarily and have fewer “ties to the community.”
“Unfortunately, I would say there’s more (home invasions), statistically,” Monroe said. “They’re easier targets.”
According to crimemapping.com, a new tool updated daily by AAPD that allows residents to track crimes that occur in the city, a significant amount of burglaries have occurred in areas surrounding campus, noting at least 15 since the start of the year.