Pennsylvania Neighborhoods Stalked by Knock-Knock Burglars

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We know from the FBI that residential crime continues to rise in many areas of the country, even as other types of crime are decreasing. Thankfully, we keep learning more about how burglars operate: what they steal, how they gain entry, and even how they think. Using this knowledge we can all work together to reduce residential crime rates, which today show that a burglary happens roughly every 14 seconds in the US. Today’s post addresses an increasingly common burglar tactic: knocking on doors to see if anyone is home, then breaking in. And this happens in all kinds of neighborhoods, as reported in this news report from Chester County, Pennsylvania.

In the criminal crowd, the scenario is commonplace: knock loudly on a homeowner’s door, and then, if no one answers, force entry and grab what you can. That setup played out only partially in Birmingham Township, when a burglar was interrupted, initiating a chain of events that led to his conviction by a Chester County Court jury. The panel took about 15 minutes to find Robert L. LeCates guilty of burglary and criminal trespass.

Classic Example of Knock Knock Burglary

According to the criminal complaint, Birmingham Township Police responded to a burglary alarm in the 1300 block of Birmingham. The female homeowner said she heard a noise at her front door, and by the time she walked to it, a man had forced entry and was standing in her foyer, the complaint said. The man, later identified as LeCates, fled, but not before the homeowner wrote down the Delaware license-plate number of the white Nissan Altima, the complaint said.

Targeting Neighbors

The following day, police heard from a neighbor of the homeowner, who said he had answered his door about noon and was met by a woman in her 20s, who asked for directions to Wilmington. He also jotted down the Delaware license-plate number, which matched the one police had already received. The man said about an hour later, he was traveling on Birmingham Road when the same Nissan, which contained a male driver and female passenger, crossed over the yellow line to pass him.

Great Police Work

Police then interviewed LeCates, who was in custody at the Media state police barracks on unrelated theft charges, and a photo lineup was arranged for the homeowner, who identified LeCates as the man who burst through her front door.

High Praise for Homeowners

Assistant District Attorney Carlos Barraza praised the homeowner’s powers of observation. “She did a great job,” he said. “It was impressive how she was able to stand face to face and eye to eye with the person who broke in, and still have the presence of mind to get details about how he looked … And even after he fled, she looked out the window and got information about the vehicle, including a license-plate number.” The prosecutor also applauded the woman’s neighbor for being vigilant. “This ended up being neighbors looking out for neighbors,” he said.

Great Safety Tips from Police

Area police consistently recommend that homeowners report any suspicious activity, which would include strangers knocking at the door. Police said the visitors typically have an excuse ready to explain the intrusion if someone answers, such as looking for directions or soliciting. When the ruse isn’t needed, they often proceed to break in and steal valuables, said police, who label such break-ins “knock-knock burglaries.”

What You Can Do

Sadly, there is no mention of a monitored burglar alarm in either incident. When you are at work or away, you still want to know that your home is protected. It’s hard for us to understand why only one in five US homes has a monitored home security system – especially when today’s technology allows these systems to do so much more.

Protected… and Connected

For instance, with a FrontPoint wireless system you can have safer cellular monitoring, remote arm/disarm, text and email notifications on events in the home, video services, free mobile apps, and even home automation, for controlling lights, locks and thermostats. In fact, there are so many reasons why these kinds of advanced systems make sense that companies like Comcast, Cox, Verizon, and AT&T have gotten into the game – although with less reliable technology. And whether they can deliver the peace of mind that people want is another question, but clearly they see a growing market for these services.

It’s logical to do everything you can so your home is not a target, even to the random intruder. You can start with installing a monitored alarm system. Your peace of mind is worth a lot. And while you’re shopping, make sure you check out FrontPoint – the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. Don’t worry about who might be knocking on your door when you’re not home!

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