A high number of burglaries and thefts throughout the area occur because the victims have failed to lock the door of their house or car, police officials in Butler County said.
Fairfield police statistics show that over the past 10 years, an average of 234 burglaries took place each year. Of those, 72 incidents — or 30 percent — took place without any forced entry. That means that the intruder came in because a door or a window was unlocked.
The situation is similar in Hamilton and Middletown. In Hamilton, 42 percent of the burglaries in 2012 involved unforced entry. In Middletown, unforced entries made up 31 percent of the burglaries last year.
Fairfield officials are highlighting the city’s number of unforced entries in the hopes of making more residents aware of the situation, said police Chief Mike Dickey.
Fairfield is promoting the slogan “Twist the Wrist,” meaning that all homeowners have to do to protect their property is flip their locks closed.
“The whole point of this effort is to get people to secure their property. Officers on patrol will find that a door is not closed in the middle of the night,” Dickey said.
Often, there’s no entry because the suspects are known to the victims, police said.
“We have a few every week where there’s no sign of forced entry, because a lot of them turn out to be family or friends,” Middletown police Lt. Scott Reeve said. “It’s kind of frustrating trying to solve a crime that’s been reported, then the victims don’t press charges.”
Police departments do not keep statistics on whether vehicles are locked or not, but “based on my experience, it’s about 95 percent of the time. It’s the majority, without a doubt,” Dickey said.
Aggravating the problem is that people often leave valuable items in plain sight.
“You can’t believe some of the things left out — loaded guns, cameras, computers … you do not leave valuables in plain view,” said Hamilton police Chief Scott Scrimizzi.
“It’s going on everywhere,” he said. “It’s kids and drug addicts. People look for anything they can steal to get money for drugs.”
A number of area residents said they aren’t surprised to learn that a siginificant number of crimes took place involving an unlocked door or window. Some suggested that when you’re younger and have children running in and out of a house, the tendency might be to leave the door unlocked.
“I don’t think people always think about taking precautions. They don’t think it’s going to happen to them,” said Marcia Minsky, of Forest Park, who was visiting the Fairfield Community Arts Center last week.
Scrimizzi suggested that leaving a car unlocked with no valuables inside is preferable to a locked car with valuables inside. That way, at least thieves don’t damage a car while trying to go through it.
“If people leave their doors and windows unlocked, they can expect to have it burglarized. I make sure my doors and windows are all locked when I leave,” said Jean Poe of Hamilton.