Town Hall Meeting regarding Burglaries
Police Seek Residents’ Help with Crime Prevention
Following a string of burglaries throughout Falls, members of the Falls Township Police Department, during a Town Hall meeting, asked a standing-room-only crowd of residents to be watchful, remain vigilant and above all, to notify police when out-of-the-ordinary things occur.
“If you see somebody in your neighborhood that shouldn’t be there, pick up the telephone,” Falls Police Chief Bill Wilcox said. “We’re here for you. We’re here to keep you safe and do the best we can. We need you. We’re 53 (police officers) with 35,000 (residents) behind us.”
The informal meeting came on the heels of a string of recent burglaries, which police said were believed to be connected. Since they began in June, police said five people have been arrested and the last night-time burglary occurred on July 2. By month’s end, DNA evidence could determine if the individuals taken into custody were responsible for committing all of the burglaries.
From Jan. 1 2014 through July 6, 2014, Falls Police received reports of 41 thefts from auto; 81 retail thefts; and 41 burglaries. By comparison, the police received reports of 58 thefts from auto; 69 retail thefts; and 61 burglaries for the same period in 2015.
Police offered some easy-to-follow tips for preventing break-ins:
- Close and lock windows and doors in homes and vehicles
- Keep curtains/blinds closed at night and when not at home. Burglars are less likely to enter a home if they cannot see what’s inside
- Remove valuables from vehicles
- Move valuables (laptops, jewelry, wallets) out of view from a window
- Keep an outside light on at night
- Close and lock first floor windows before going to bed
- Let your neighbors know when you’re planning to be out of town
- Call police if you see a vehicle in your neighborhood that you don’t recognize
- Call police if someone comes to your home asking for someone who doesn’t live there or seems suspicious
“I want everybody to be ever-vigilant of what’s going on,” Chief Wilcox said. “Without us working together this doesn’t work.”
Resident Guido Mariani agreed.
“As citizens we’re going to help you. We’re going to back you up,” he said. “When they come into Falls Township that’s not the place to commit a crime.”
While police encouraged residents to serve as the eyes and ears of the community, confronting would-be criminals or entering the home if a burglar is believed to be inside should be left to law enforcement officials.
Know your property
In the event of a burglary, it’s important for residents to know what items they have at their home or inside their vehicle so that information can be relayed to police.
Police suggested following these tips to increase the likelihood that stolen items could be recovered:
- Take photos of valuable items and keep pictures in a lockbox or safe deposit box
- Photograph or write down serial numbers for valuable items and/or guns
Lt. Nelson Whitney encouraged residents to set up neighborhood town watch groups similar to those in place in the Thornridge, Breezy Acres and Pennwood Crossing developments. Town watches can put out signs letting people know the community is under residential watch.
In addition, Lt. Whitney said police attend meetings and keep groups up-to-date on crime within the area. Police urged town watch groups to set up a phone chain and stay in touch.
With communication as a main goal, Chief Wilcox said he plans to continue offering periodic town hall meetings, most likely every few months. In the meantime, he urged residents to keep the line of communication open.
“Our doors are open 24-7,” Chief Wilcox said. “There’s always somebody here. There’s always somebody here that will talk to you.”
Stay in touch
Police can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For emergency calls, dial 911 and the county dispatcher will be able to see where the call is coming from.
For non-emergency calls, dial 215-945-3100. Callers can still speak to a county dispatcher, but the location will not be tracked.
To speak to a police officer at the station, call 215-949-9100 and select the appropriate extension.
Learn citizen policing essentials
In the spring and fall, the Falls Township Police Department offers a 10-week Citizens Police Academy on Wednesday evenings. Participants can gain a better understanding of various aspects of law enforcement.
High school students interested in pursuing a law enforcement or military career can attend the township’s Youth Citizens Academy Camp. The two-week condensed training helps to build good leadership principles and mirrors a police academy. The next youth academy will be held from July 15-30.
For more information on the Citizens Police Academy call Cpl. Michael Wolverton at 215-949-9100 Ext. 326.
To view the recorded meeting, please visit http://youtu.be/o3oaUvBBXSc