BENNINGTON -- Authorities are recommending practical steps to safeguard homes and vehicles as warmer weather gives rise to increasing reports of property crime.
National statistics related to burglary and larceny rates indicate a seasonal pattern, with the highest number of incidents correlating with the mid-summer months. According to the Bureau of Justice, based on statistics from the continuous National Crime Victimization Survey, the highest seasonal crimes include household larceny and unlawful entry -- where the suspect makes entry through an unlocked door or open window.
Crimes with a lower seasonality include personal robbery, motor vehicle theft, and forcible entry burglaries.
In Vermont, police typically witness an uptick in reports come springtime as second home owners return to seasonal residences and find them broken into.
Bennington Police Lt. Lloyd Dean said while police have not seen a recent rise in town, they are encouraging residents to take basic precautions against crimes of opportunity as spring arrives. Those recommendations include not leaving valuables inside vehicles or in plain sight, not leaving keys inside vehicles, and locking home doors and vehicles -- including those parked in the driveway.
In the past week, state police reported more than a half-dozen residential break-ins in the town of Arlington, concentrated along River Road and Vermont Route 313. While not believed to be all connected, police said they were seeking anyone with information that may help them solve any of those ongoing investigations.
The latest incident reported by police was called in last Wednesday, Feb. 27, and again involved a River Road residence broken into sometime in the past few days. The state police barracks in Shaftsbury can be reached at (802) 442-5421. Police also take information anonymously online at www.vtips.info or by testing "CRIMES" (274637) with the keyword VTIPS.
Jewelry, valuable coins, and other similar belongings have been stolen in recent incidents.
The Bureau of Justice points to individual behavior patterns changing with the seasons as reason for certain trends in crime. With warmer weather, people spend more time outside, and doors and windows are more often left open or unlocked. Household items are likely to be left outside, and longer daylight hours allow more opportunity to see where to break in.
According to statistics from the same national survey, most burglaries occur during the daytime (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) regardless of whether it’s a forcible entry or unlawful entry without force. More than a third of all reported theft occurred in that 12-hour timespan when most homeowners are away at work, while another nearly 20 percent took place between 6 p.m. and midnight.
The Justice Bureau’s annual survey on criminal victimization includes data from a nationally representative sample -- during 2011, about 79,800 households and 143,120 individuals were interviewed. Each household is interviewed twice during the year, allowing the Bureau of Justice Statistics to estimate the likelihood of victimization for the population as a whole and specific demographics for crimes including rape, sexual assault, robbery, assault, theft, household burglary, and motor vehicle theft.
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