Skip Navigation
This table is used for column layout.
Preventing Burglaries
Police Chief's Message April 2011
During the month of March,   the Police Department responded to two residential burglaries.   The Department continues to apply a three prong strategy that involves: 1) Directive Patrols 2) Intensive Follow- up Investigation and 3) Crime Prevention Awareness.   In order to enhance community awareness, this month’s article will provide the reader with important information concerning the criminal act of burglary.  Much of this information comes from the National Uniform Crime Reports and National Victimization studies.

How do thieves select from many houses which house to burglarize? 
This is a common question that has been frequently asked.   Much of the literature suggests that the most common targeted   home for burglary is a residence that is situated as a corner lot and located in close proximity to a more heavily traveled roadway.  It is theorized that this location provides the burglary suspect multiple escape routes.   The most common form of entry into the home is a forced entry through the front door (61%). Fortunately, most burglaries occur when the home is vacant.  There is a slight increase of assault if the victim is home at the time of burglary, but the majority of home occupied burglaries do not result in an assault. 

In addition, if your home was the scene of a past burglary there is a greater risk of future burglaries as compared to homes that have not been burglarized. Some of the literature suggests that the risks of a repeated burglary may be three times higher.  Clearly, it is possible that this risk may never be realized or may only occur years later.  Regardless, the department warns of the risk and encourages individuals to enhance security precautions in order to limit the residence as a soft target.   As part of the Police Department’s crime watch/prevention program, patrol officers remain vigilant to homes that have been the scene of past burglaries. 

According to uniform crime reports many burglaries occur during daytime hours (77.4%) when homes are most likely vacant.  It is for this reason that the Department encourages the use of burglary alarm systems when the home is vacant.  In addition, please ask trusted neighbors to call the police if they see any suspicious activity at the home. In addition, radios and televisions may be left on in order to create the appearance that the home is occupied.  All doors and windows should be tightly secured with appropriate dead bolts.  As mentioned, this is a crime of opportunity. 

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the most  frequent type of property taken from residential homes are portable electronic and photographic gear, jewelry, clothing and other personal effects (40.8%), household furnishings (13.5 %), tools and machinery (1.4%), cash (9.9%), purse/ wallet and credit cards(5.8%), bicycle and their parts(4.0%) and firearms (2.4%).  As expected, much of this stolen property may be fenced in a matter of hours in order to support an amateur thief’s substance abuse habit.  Residents are encouraged to engrave valuable property and maintain serial numbers of valuable property in several different locations.  Engraved property may deter thieves and help investigators recover stolen property.

Burglary suspects can be divided into two categories.  
One category is the amateur burglar who often acts with little planning and his/her behavior can be categorized as impulsive. This type of burglary suspect may be committing burglary offenses in order to support a substance abuse habit.  Often this criminal will have a prior history of property offenses and the crime scene will be indicative of this type of offender.  

The second type of burglary suspect is the professional thief.  This individual acts with deliberate and planned intention.  Specific targets have been chosen and many of the risks of capture have been considered.  The uniform crime report offender demographics indicates that most offenders are white (69.0%) and male (86.6%). 

Although the Dunstable Police Department has an above average success rate in solving cases of burglary ,the average national clearance rate of burglary is 12%-13%.  In addition, the average property loss is $1,834.00.   The uniform crime reports that there are approximately 2.1 million burglaries each year.

In closing, it is our hope that this information provides the reader valuable information in order to better understand this crime and implement appropriate crime prevention measures. Although the rate of burglary within this region continues to rise, the literature suggests that police and the community members working together can have a substantial impact in reducing this crime.  

Public Safety Information can be received through and on the cable program Groton-Dunstable 9-1-1. 


James G. Downes II

Chief of Police

Emergency 9-1-1,   Business  978 649- 7445


Town of Dunstable, 511 Main Street, Dunstable MA 01827 (978) 649-4514
Privacy Policy & Disclaimer | Virtual Towns & Schools Website