Rash of home burglaries has neighborhood on edge

CHANDLER, AZ - Burglars are out in full force again – striking Valley homeowners on vacation or out for the day.

Kristine Nelson was out on a day trip celebrating her son's birthday when her eldest son called to say her home had been robbed.

Tempe police told Nelson the burglars have struck several times in her Tempe-Chandler neighborhood possibly watching the homes to see when homeowners are home and when they are not.

"It was just very disturbing, very unsettling," said Nelson.

The burglars are so brazen they hit in broad daylight and don't mind the noise of a barking watch dog. Police say the majority of the burglaries have occurred between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, when most people are away from their homes.

"They don't care if there's an alarm or a dog ... nothing scares them," Nelson said. "They go in and quickly move through the rooms. They also go through drawers, looking for cash, gift cards, electronics, anything of high value they can get their hands on."

Officers told Nelson the burglars will dump items into blankets, sheets and pillow cases for fast removal.

"It seems they know exactly how to get in and get out fast. Our new TV was in our front room and they could see that from the street," Nelson said. "They could see when we watch TV or when we are home."

Neighbors had noticed Nelson's dog out in the yard around 5 p.m., they thought that was suspicious, but no one called police.

"I want to encourage our neighborhood to do that, I don't want it to happen in this neighborhood anymore," said Nelson.

Officers told Nelson the neighborhoods that call in the most suspicious things, typically have the least amount of problems.

Police encourage homeowners to take action:

1. Get to know your neighbors and have them watch your home when you are away.  

2. Know and store in your cell phone police and non-emergency numbers to report suspicious happenings. In Tempe call 480-350-8311, for Chandler 480-782-4130.

3.  Note or take photos of suspicious vehicles and license plates in your area. They may just be hanging out on a street watching the patterns, or it could be a robbery in progress.

4.  Don't tweet out (Twitter), or post on Facebook any photos announcing vacations or time away from home (If you have kids – tell them not to tweet or post on Facebook).

5.  Get a monitoring system and be sure to tell the monitoring company to call police FIRST. Tempe police give priority to a burglary in progress.

6.  Put up cameras, use some advanced apps on smartphones to monitor your cameras remotely when gone.

7.  Keep a log and photos of your valuables and jewelry. Include serial numbers and model numbers.

8.  Disable your garage door and lock all doors all the time.

9.  Invite your police departments Crime Prevention Unit to your next Block Watch meeting and they will help you and your neighbors identify weak points and tell you what has been going on in your neighborhood.

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