Vacant homes target in string of local break-ins |

Vacant homes target in string of local break-ins

Aspen police are cautioning homeowners to take steps to ward off burglars following a string of break-ins at empty homes.

There have been four or five break-ins to unoccupied homes in Aspen in the past couple of weeks, according to Loren Ryerson, police patrol supervisor.

“Even one or two would be concerning,” said Ryerson, who declined to identify the neighborhoods that have been hit or specify what was stolen.

“I don’t want to identify any specific neighborhood as a great target,” he said.

Most recently, police received a report of a break-in on Saturday to an unoccupied residence. The suspect or suspects broke a window and entered the home, but the crime is being treated as a trespass because nothing was apparently stolen, Ryerson said. In previous incidents, items have been taken, he said.

Police are advising second-home owners and property managers to take precautions that can protect a vacant house, like renting out an available caretaker unit and making sure security systems in the house are operational.

In three of the recent break-in cases, an unoccupied caretaker’s unit was available in or very near the main house, according to a police department press release. “Had these units been lived in, we believe that this would have, at the least, discouraged the break-in,” the release states.

Some of the homes also had security alarm systems that were not in operation, according to Ryerson.

Property managers who oversee second homes should take steps to make sure the homes in their care appear lived in, according to police. Old newspapers, flyers or other debris should not be allowed to accumulate outside the home, police advise.

Timers to turn on a home’s lights and a television in the evening, and motion-activated outdoor lights near entrances to the home can also help prevent break-ins. Installing deadbolt locks and securing window locks is also advisable, according to police.

Getting to know one’s neighbors, so they can keep an eye on things, is also a good idea, Ryerson said.

In several of the recent incidents, it was not property managers who noticed the break-ins, but neighbors who notified police after noticing something out of the ordinary, according to police.

“We just want to remind people of what they already know – to shore up their own defenses,” Ryerson said.

Ryerson said he could not label the recent burglaries as an off-season phenomenon. An unoccupied home is a potential target at any time, he said.

“If you give someone the opportunity, they might just take you up on it,” he said.

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