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MPD Urges Vigilance as Burglaries Surge

Reports of burglaries in the first eight months of 2020 jumped 34% from 2019 according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Orchard Ridge Neighborhood Association launched its #9PMRoutine campaign in October, peppering local streets with bright orange signs reminding homeowners that a few simple security steps before bedtime can help prevent burglaries and property theft.

The #9PMRoutine movement has gained traction nationwide as police across the country have seen an uptick in break-ins and other property-related crimes, most notably auto thefts.

"People are looking for open doors, for cars with keys in them, going into residences through open doors and looking for obvious places where car keys would be and then stealing cars," acting Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl said in a recent press conference.

Establishing a nightly routine to lock all doors and turn on exterior lights is one way homeowners can help break the cycle and make a neighborhood less attractive to would-be thieves. We talked to Midtown District Chief of Police Jason Freedman to learn about how homeowners can protect their property.

What are the most common pitfalls for homeowners when it comes to protecting their homes and belongings?

I wish it wasn't the case, but people should lock their doors all hours of the day and night, even if they are home. If you're going to leave your windows or screen door open, invest in a dowel or window lock that allows you to crack the window but not leave it all the way open.

Also, don't leave valuables in plain sight in front of a window and don't broadcast that you have valuables such as a gun collection or coin collection in your house.

Finally, don't leave your garage door open or the door from your garage to your house open. If you park your car outside, don't leave the garage door opener in the car. Someone can break into the car, take your garage door opener, and then come back later.

How have you seen efforts like Lock it or Lose It or #9PMRoutine affect a community's property crime rate?

People who are intent on negative behavior whether it's minor or significant are going to go to places where they find vulnerabilities. If they come into a neighborhood where all the doors are locked, motion lights come on, and people are vigilant, they are going to go somewhere else. A neighborhood that improves its overall defenses is going to discourage being predated on.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Talk to your alder and make sure he or she is aware of your public safety concerns. We need the community's help and the extent to which you can harness your energy to promote efforts like #9PMRoutine without our direct help is critical to turning around the trend in property crimes.◼

Megan Handley is a contributing writer and coordinates the publication of The Grapevine. Have a story idea or want to contribute? Contact us!

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