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What you need to know for 08/21/2017

How Rotterdam is responding to burglaries

How Rotterdam is responding to burglaries

Police advise vigilance after series of break-ins
How Rotterdam is responding to burglaries
Jason Kinney of International Built-In Systems in Colonie holds a 360-degree surveillance camera.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Clarice Gordon happened to be near her back door when she heard the bell jingle on her back screen door.

Gordon looked out through the closed inner door and spotted a woman. 

"She didn't really knock on the door," Gordon recalled last week, "what she did was she opened the screen door."

Gordon spoke to the woman through the still-closed inner door, and the woman quickly apologized. She had mistaken Gordon's house for another and left, she said.

A neighbor's surveillance camera captured the incident at Gordon's home, and police were called. It was potentially one of a series of break-ins, or attempted break-ins, that happened in the area Aug. 4 and Aug. 5, according to police reports.

Police confirmed they were aware of the incident at Gordon's home. They've also advised residents to be vigilant, police Lt. Jeffrey Collins said.

Residents, Gordon among them, are heeding police calls to lock their doors and turn on exterior lights.

"I'm locking all my doors," she said, "because I don't know what's going on."

The burglar or burglars entered or attempted entry into homes in three different areas of the town during the weekend spree, police said. They tried to enter through patio doors or unsecured windows.

Police also received reports that two exterior sheds appeared to have been entered.

In one incident, someone stole car keys from inside a house and stole a car later found in Schenectady.

Police are asking residents to report suspicious behavior, and the town's neighborhood watch has urged them to go even further: Get to know neighbors; pay attention to and take note of your surroundings.

Watch president Jim Miller said there is an elevated sense of concern among members since the Aug. 4-5 incidents. Members are posting about suspicious activity on the group's Facebook page: Rotterdam NY Neighborhood Watch.

Along with being aware, the group's main message, Miller said, is don't become complacent.

"The thing is to not get tunnel vision; pay attention to things," he said.

The group also works with residents to become better observers, something that becomes an asset for law enforcement when crimes do happen, Miller said.

Beyond simple watching, residents hit by burglars often turn to security systems that watch for movement, detect opened doors and windows or simply capture images of perpetrators.

Jason Kenney, president of Colonie-based International Built-In Systems, last week said his company regularly gets calls from homeowners inquiring about home security systems after burglaries.

His family's company offers systems for both homes and businesses.

security2prb.jpg

"If you have a chance to be proactive on it, that's what you want to do," Kenney said. "Certainly, locking doors is going to help you. Making sure windows are shut and locked, all that's going to help you. But true peace of mind — with a security system — there's really nothing better than that."

Among the Rotterdam neighborhoods hit in the Aug. 4-5 spree was one bounded by Route 7 and Burdeck Street, which includes homes on Mary Lane and Glen Court.

One resident of that neighborhood, who didn't want his name used for this story, recalled waking up with his wife the morning of Aug. 5 and realizing someone had cut the window screens and broken one of his windows in an attempt to get inside. Whoever it was didn't get in.

"Scary, yeah, sure," the man said. "You're telling us we're laying there sleeping and someone's trying to get into my house?"

The man called police, and he praised officers for their response.

Another neighborhood resident, who wasn't victimized, realized she very well could have been.

"To be honest, I think if you think that it's never going to happen, then you're not living in the real world," Filomena DiCristofaro said. "We obviously live in a different world nowadays."

But, she said she knows she can't let it keep her from living her life.

"You just make whatever changes you need to make to further protect yourself, your home, your family, your vehicles, your neighbors, and then you move on," she said.

Rotterdam resident Paul Garrow owns the security cameras that captured footage of the incident at Gordon's house.

He recalled hearing about the police advisory and setting up new motion alerts on his devices. Soon after, his system alerted him to the woman at the screen door across the street, and Garrow called police.

"You have to know what's going on outside," he said, "because people just don't respect your property."

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