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Police using computer analysis to curb burglaries

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 23. 2013 9:18PM

MANCHESTER — A mid-July spike in burglaries sent the total for the month up sharply, to 148 compared to 90 for the same month in 2012.

Manchester Police Information Officer Lt. Maureen Tessier said Friday: "We've been back down to normal levels." That's about 15 combined residential and commercial burglaries a week at this time of year.

She said the department's crime analyst helped in identifying problem areas when the two-week July spike happened. "We adjusted our investigative and enforcement efforts to target problem areas and identify suspects," said Tessier.

Burglaries in Goffstown and Bedford also have resulted in some arrests.

Tessier credited the year-old LeadsOnline computer registration program for secondhand stores with helping in the recovery of stolen items and with arrests. Goffstown and Bedford police also have used the Manchester program to help with their burglary investigations.

Because store owners are now required to immediately post photos and information about items sold, get identification from sellers, and hold items for 30 days, LeadsOnline has been important in resolving some area burglaries.

Tessier said LeadsOnline was a huge help during that two-weeks in July because officers were able to identify some of the property posted by the pawn shops as some of what was taken in the burglaries.

"A number of suspects were developed, leading to quite a few arrests related to the burglaries and/or the stolen property. Some of these individuals were responsible for multiple burglaries and their arrests led to a drop in those crimes during subsequent weeks," said Tessier.

"I can't understate the value of the system," she said. adding that Manchester gets inquiries from neighboring departments about items taken in burglaries in their jurisdictions. "Town lines don't necessarily stop (burglars)," she said. "LeadOnline enables them to locate property in our pawn shops."

Tessier said: "It's an incredibly valuable tool."

Tessier said most residential burglaries occur during the day, when no one is likely to be home, and most commercial burglaries are at night, when businesses are closed.

But there have been some recent residential burglaries at night, when people were home. Fortunately, she said, in several instances last weekend, the burglar fled when discovered, sometimes with property, sometimes leaving it behind.

In most cases, she said: "There's no indication the burglar is interested in anything but property."

In a burglary on Oak Street Thursday, she said, a couple returned home about 4 p.m. and discovered their home had been burglarized. It appeared the burglar had entered through a window and moved a laptop and small safety to the floor near the open window, but had left the items there. He or she could have been scared off by the family returning. Nothing else was missing and no one was injured.

In most cases, said Tessier: "They are interested in small items. They throw them in a backpack." They want to get rid of the items fast, she said.

That's why it's important to keep a list of serial numbers for electronics such as phones, laptops, computer towers and game systems. She said there could be 20 Toshiba laptops on LeadsOnline, but without a serial number there's no way to identify yours.

Burglars are also looking for credit and debit cards, and personal checkbooks. The checkbooks, credit and debit cards are often used even before the burglary is discovered.

That is what happened after a burglary early Thursday on English Village Road. Tessier said police who responded to a reported fight involving three men at about 2 a.m. learned a 28-year-old resident, who had heard noise in a bedroom, pursued a man who jumped out of the window and ran from the building, meeting up with another man who had been waiting outside.

Tessier said the resident caught up with the man who had been in the building and ripped off his backpack, but that man escaped when the resident turned his attention to the other man, Eddil Ortez, 20, who was arrested and charged with prowling.

But the burglar escaped with a cell phone, purse and wallet from the apartment and was able to use some of the victim's credit cards fraudulently before they could be canceled.

Tessier said police caution against confronting burglars. But they do urge people to report suspicious activity around their own or neighbor's homes.

There's no question open windows make burglaries easier. But while warm weather results in windows being left open, Tessier urged residents to take advantage of locking devices that can restrict how far a window can be opened. It's also a good idea not to leave tempting items out in the open and/or close to windows.


Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said burglary totals for 2013 were lower that those of 2012. That statement has been removed.

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