1.) The Basics: Hundreds of Arlington residents attended a community meeting Wednesday night in an over-capacity Stratton School auditorium to hear from police on a recent string of overnight home break-ins in the neighborhood. Residents Lynn Horgan and Maura Harrington, of the Turkey Hill Neighborhood Alliance, organized the meeting, along with Arlington police. Seven Arlington police officers, including Chief Frederick Ryan, Capt. Richard Flynn, Capt. James Curran and Officer James Smith, the department’s community liaison, served on the meeting’s panel and answered a number of questions from residents.
2.) The Break-Ins: Police have grouped together 12 recent home break-ins in the neighborhood, since July 25, that they “feel strongly” were committed by the same perpetrator, a single suspect working alone, according to Ryan.
The break-ins have occurred from roughly Summer Street to Mountain Avenue, and then from Overlook Road to Lansdowne Road (see map above).
They’ve occurred between 2-6 a.m. Half of the homes have been unlocked, the other half locked. The days of the week and age of the victims vary. The suspect’s entry point has been in the rear of the homes, and police believe the suspect is operating on foot. The homes have not been ransacked.
“We’re very confident this perpetrator lives in the area,” Ryan said.
People have been home during some of the break-ins, but no one has said verbal or physical contact with the suspect. One person did see someone believed to be the suspect from a distance but, due to the conditions, could not give police a detailed description, Ryan said. Others have heard suspicious noises, he said.
3.) Any Leads?: Police have interviewed three suspects and taken DNA and fingerprint samples from two of them (one suspect refused to provide the samples). The samples are currently being processed at a state lab. “We haven’t ruled them out or in,” Ryan said of the suspects.
4.) Don’t Be Afraid, Call Police: Police urged residents to call them at 911 or 781-643-1212 if they see anything, anything at all, out of the ordinary. “Put it out of your minds, you’re never bothering us, you’re absolutely never bothering us,” Smith said. Flynn added, “We want you to call. No one knows your neighborhood better than you.”
5.) Police Measures: Ryan said solving these break-ins, and preventing future ones, is the department’s top priority right now. “We’ve had an officer in plain clothes in a tree at 4 a.m. with night vision goggles,” he said. Ryan said the department is committed to bringing the case to a close before anyone gets injured.
Police have also upped overnight patrols in the area and are stopping pedestrians and drivers out at that time of night (a resident, who had been stopped twice himself, attested to the police’s diligence).
“Every one of you is part of our family,” Curran said, “and we do take it personal.”
Police have also been coordinating with nearby departments.
6.) Steps You Can Take (from Arlington police):
- Please promptly report unusual activity, vehicles or people in your neighborhood to police using 911
- Lock your home at all times, even when going out for short periods of time
- Utilize your home alarm system if your home has one
- Talk to and develop security plans with neighbors
- Secure all sliding doors, windows, and mounted air conditioning units
- When possible make use of motion sensor lighting
- Keep garage and shed doors closed and locked if possible
- Secure your property by keeping bushes and trees trimmed to eliminate hiding spaces for would be thieves
- If you are going away on vacation or business, make sure to stop mail and newspaper deliveries
- Notify police if you’re going on vacation, and do not post your vacation plans on social media
7.) If You Hear Someone in Your House: If you hear someone in your house, don’t panic, shelter in place, call 911 and stay on the line with dispatch, according to police. If necessary, and you can safely, evacuate.
As a last resort, if you fear for you’re safety, you can use whatever means necessary to survive, Ryan said. “We don’t ever recommend people arm themselves,” he said. “There has been no violence to date. The suspect has avoided people.”
After notifying police, refrain from touching any possible evidence until officers arrived.
8.) Overall Safety?: A resident asked Ryan if she should now be afraid of her kids walking to school, and Ryan responded, basically, “No.” “We live in a very safe community,” he said. “This is not a normal series of crimes that we see in Arlington.”
9.) More Information: More information, including the PowerPoint from Wednesday’s meeting can be found on the police department’s website (it should be available sometime Thursday).