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On Capitol Hill, it’s the most burglar-y time of the year

It’s an old saw from SPD community meetings — lock your doors and windows in summer as thieves come out with warmer, drier weather. It might be true. But after a string of anecdotes this holiday season on Capitol Hill — including a report of a burglary Monday in which a thief stole everything of value from a home… and the presents from beneath the tree — CHS decided to look at the numbers. On Capitol Hill, at least, it’s the end of the most burglar-y time of the year.


Here’s a look at the monthly totals for the four East Precinct beats (mapped below) — we’ve boxed the December totals in red to highlight the month of giving taking. As you can see in 2008, 2009 and 2010, the real burglary season on the Hill actually starts in October. With our analysis of 2011’s numbers through September showing a surge in burglary over summer, the burglary anecdotes we’ve been seeing might be evidence of a continuing late year spike on the Hill. We haven’t heard as much about package thievery this year — but maybe people have just quit telling us about it.

Here’s another look at the monthly burglary totals since 2008 broken out by the four East Precinct beats. North Capitol Hill’s C1 beat shows the most consistent late year surges. Could be worse, though — check out what the heck happened in E2 in late 2009.

Below is a look at where SPD has investigated burglaries the last 30 days around Capitol Hill. You can click the map for the latest 30-day display (Select full reports to filter out the initial dispatch items for some). The dots represent approximate locations for the crime reports not specific addresses.

You can see that the reports are pretty well distributed across the Hill. The data — and the anecdotes, below — show that residential burglary is an issue in Capitol Hill’s dense core as well as its areas of single family homes.

What are these burglars stealing? The Monday rip-off we mentioned above was unusual in its completeness — typical reports document a busted window or door and only muddy bootprints with nothing stolen. Also common is the burglary of a few select electronics. But some are tragic to read — there’s a happy thief out there who made off with a $6,000 ring ripped off from a Capitol Hill home earlier this month. Jerk. Here are some accounts from recent burglaries.

  • December 8, Belmont Ave E: A burglar ransacked a Belmont Ave E’s woman bedroom and came away with a valuable ring.
  • December 12, Belmont Pl E: Burglar threw a rock through a door window, rifled drawers but apparently stole nothing.
  • November 25, E Boston: Sometime around Thanksgiving, a burglar busted into this home for a nap:
  • December 6, 11th Ave: A man discovered that only his driver license had been stolen in a break-in that happened while he was in the residence. The man told SPD he thought the culprit might be a former boyfriend.
  • November 23, E Helen: Burglar made off with an iMac and a digital camera after forcing open the front door.
  • November 25, 16th Ave E: Burglary netted two Acer laptops, a 42 inch Samsung TV and a CanonEOS Digital camera. Thief entered home through an open window.
  • November 26, 14th Ave E: A burglar kicked open a door to net this booty:
  • December 10, 19th Ave: Burglar made off with a 40-inch TV, a laptop and an iPod after busting in through the front door while the homeowner was at work.
  • November 26, Belmont Ave: A thief used a garden brick to gain access to this man’s residence:
  • December 12, E Madison: A construction site was burglarized of thousands of dollars in tools by a thief who struck over the weekend.

There’s the bad news. The good news, of sorts, is that the toughest time of year for Hill burglary appears to be coming to an end. To help make sure you don’t add to the trends, keep in mind that reports are most commonly for daytime break-ins of empty homes and apartments. Here are some tips from SPD for helping to reduce break-ins around the holidays. Short of hiring an alarm company, another thing to try is leaving a radio and a light on — there are a few reports of break-ins where it appears the thief bolted after seeing or hearing signs that somebody might be inside.

Prevention Tips At Home

Don’t openly display wrapped or received gifts so they are easily visible from the street. You increase the possibility that a burglar will be tempted to gain entry and steal the gifts.

When disposing of the packaging in which gifts and other purchases come, realize that when you place these out for recycling or trash collection, those boxes sitting out on the curbon collection day give a passer-by a pretty good indication of what’s in your home. Recycle the packaging, yes – but break the boxes down first, turn them inside out so the exterior writing does not show, and don’t put them on the curb until collection day.

Burglars often enter through unlocked doors or windows. When exterior Christmas light extension cords are run inside through a window, this prevents the window from being secured, and this unsecured window is visibly noticeable. Consider installing an inexpensive exterior outlet for your holiday lights so you don’t provide an opened and unlocked entry to your home.

If you have ordered items and are going to have them delivered, consider having them delivered to your place of business rather than your home, or to a neighbor who has agreed to accept packages for you. Unattended packages left on your porch become enticing targets for thieves.If you are going to be away, let your trusted neighbors know that you plan to be out town so that they can watch your home for you. If they see suspicious activity while you are gone, they will know to call 911 for you.

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6 thoughts on “On Capitol Hill, it’s the most burglar-y time of the year” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. 1)) “Consider installing an inexpensive exterior outlet for your holiday lights so you don’t provide an opened and unlocked entry to your home.” A plug adaptor in a porch light is easy. 5 & dime on 15th has them.

    2) ” those boxes sitting out on the curb on collection day give a passer-by a pretty good indication of what’s in your home. ” Actually happened to a friend. Good news: thief was disturbed, TV left by door. Police pointed out TV box next to trash.

  2. put anything a delivery person leaves outside the front door INside. Remember folks, your building manager isn’t awake 24×7. At my building, the Amazon Fresh truck and similar delivery folks are leaving things at ungodly hours of the morning outside the front door where they’re a target for a thief. Just slide it inside and it’s a little more secure than just sitting outside in front of God and everybody.

    Not everybody has the ability to have things delivered to their job and it’s just being neighborly.

  3. My neighbors were one of the houses listed, where they took the gifts from under the tree. They have a 7 year old little girl. They didn’t just steal the gifts, they stole her peace of mind and trust that her home is safe.

  4. why are these reports being quoted again?? i don’t think these burglary victims intended their complaints to be published in an online “newspaper” when they reported them to the police.

    shoddy journalism.

  5. I grew up in a mid size southeast city and am continually dumbfounded at how the low crime rate in Seattle makes some people totally oblivious to the fact that they are leaving themselves open to crime. Case in point: I’ve seen several building front doors and gates left open for deliveries, presumably because there’s no intercom system. My friend’s neighbor even left a note asking that the door be left open all day!!! I have packages delivered to my office but barring that, can’t you have stuff delivered to the ups or FedEx stores? I realize no one wants to drive to white center but still….