There has been a recent spike in home burglaries in both Deerfield and Highland Park, according to the towns' police departments.
Deerfield has had five burglaries since the first of the year, which prompted Deerfield Police Chief John Sliozis to email residents and make a plea for civic vigilance at last week's Village Board of Trustees meeting.
“Five may not seem like a lot in some places but it’s five times as many as last year,” Sliozis said. “We ask for the community to help by keeping their eyes open in their neighborhoods. If you see something or someone let us know.”
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Highland Park has seen five burglaries in the past four weeks, according to Deputy Police Chief Dave Schwarz, who called the increase "concerning." There's a chance the burglaries there are being committed by the same people.
"When you start seeing clusters it indicates it might be one crew," Schwarz said.
Three of the Deerfield burglaries occured on Feb. 1.
“Mostly small items like jewelry were taken,” Sliozis said. “There have been some electronics taken as well.”
There were also two burglaries Jan. 18 and 19.
How to protect your home
Deerfield police recommend people protect their homes by locking all doors with deadbolts, leaving interior light illuminated, using exterior lighting, activating an alarm if there is one, cancel mail and newspaper deliveries when away for an extended time, place “Beware of Dog” signs outside the home and be wary of suspicious persons or cars when you leave home.
Sliozis also encouraged people to watch each others’ homes. “Be a good neighbor,” he said. “Watch your neighbor’s home when they are gone and ask them to watch your home.”
Calling burglaries a crime of opportunity, Schwarz encourages residents to make their homes more difficult to enter to reduce the risk of being targeted. Use deadbolt locks on doors, which should be solid oak or wood. Light up dark areas around doors and windows. Leave lights on when on trips. Use a wooden rod to keep sliding doors locked.
You can also put up a "Beware of Dog" sign, even if you don't have an intimidating dog.
"The last thing anyone wants to confront is a dog," Schwarz said.
The police rely on residents to let them know if they see anything suspicious, Schwarz explained. Residents are encouraged to call the police if they see an unfamiliar car stopped in front of a house for a long period of time, or if it is slowly driving around.
The most helpful information you can provide is the license plate number.
"The license plate info is often the one thing people forget to get," Schwarz said. "That's certainly a big lead for us."