150 crowd school, hear general discussion of 3 suspects

Police Chief Fred Ryan told an overflow crowd of about 150 people at Stratton School Wednesday, Oct. 16, that police are confident they will find the person responsible for breaking into 12 homes in the northwest section of town and have made solving the crime a high priority because some homes were occupied at the time of the break-ins "and we want to go to extraordinary measures to make sure no one is injured."

He asked residents for help. "We will do everything we can to make sure none of these occur again, but we rely on an effective partnership with you. We are asking you to engage in a security audit of your home, talk to your neighbors and look out for one another.

"Our fear and your fear, probably as well, is that someone will get hurt in one of these incidents," he said. He asked residents to call police if they see anything unusual in the neighborhood. "The public is huge; you people can help solve this for us. You’re never bothering us. If you see something that doesn’t look right, call us. Call 911."

Ryan and other police officers spoke to the newly organized Turkey Hill Neighborhood Alliance to provide information about the break-ins, which date back to July 25. He said all the break-ins took place between 2 and 6 a.m. and about half were in homes with unlocked doors.

The meeting was called by Lynn Horgan and Maura Harrington, who live in the neighborhood. "We got together last week and had a conversation like many of you have probably had over the last few weeks," said Horgan. "The Turkey Hill Neighborhood Alliance represents everyone in this room tonight; it’s not an official committee. Our common interest is home and vehicle safety and looking out for each other."

Police said they have put the burglaries into the same category based on the time of day they occurred and how the perpetrator broke in. "We think these 12 were committed by one person, and we think it is one person operating alone," said Ryan, adding police are confident the perpetrator is someone who lives in the neighborhood.

Ryan said police have questioned three suspects and taken DNA and fingerprint samples from two who cooperated; the third would not provide the evidence.

Police are awaiting results from the state crime lab, but Ryan said that "without someone to match them to, they have limited or no value."

He said the department is doing everything it can to solve the crimes. "We have police officers out there with night-vision goggles at 4 a.m. We have spared no resources to bring these crimes to quick closure we will spare no expense to bring this to a close before someone gets hurt." In addition to increased patrols, unmarked cars and plainclothes police are surveying the neighborhood.

Residents were told if they hear someone in the house to call 911 and stay on the line with the dispatcher. "I can guarantee you," said Ryan, "that in less than in a minute you’ll be surrounded by boys in blue." He also said that if someone fears for his safety and can evacuate the house safely, to leave.

The general area where the break-ins have occurred extends from Summer Street to Mountain Avenue as well as from Overlook Road to Lansdowne Road (see map).

Police present apart from Chief Ryan were Capt. Richard Flynn, investigations commander; Capt. James Curran, operations commander; Lt. Michael Sheehan, Criminal Investigations Bureau OIC; Sgt. Bryan Gallagher, patrol supervisor; James Smith, community outreach officer; David Martin and Robert Smith, both patrol officers.

Police ask the community's help. If anyone has information regarding any of these past crimes or if you have witnessed suspicious activity, contact the Arlington Police Criminal Investigation Bureau at 781-316-3938.

What you can do

Residents were given tips to protect themselves:

•   Please promptly report unusual activity, vehicles, or people in your neighborhood to police using 911;

•   Lock your home at all times even when going out for short periods;

•   Use your home alarm system if your home has one;

•   Talk to and develop security plans with neighbors;

•   Secure all sliding doors, windows, and mounted air-conditioning units;

•   When possible make use of motion sensor lighting;

•   Keep garage and shed doors closed and locked if possible;

•   Secure your property by keeping bushes and trees trimmed to eliminate hiding spaces for would-be thieves; and
•    If you are going away on vacation or business, make sure to stop mail and newspaper deliveries

This meeting is open to all local residents.

This story about this meeting was published Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, and a report of the meeting relpaced it Oct. 17.