Police chief issues warning to residents: home burglaries are on the rise07/25/2023 02:25PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
Following the delivery of his department head update – which summarized Kennett Township’s police activity during the month of June -- Police Chief Matthew Gordon devoted the remainder of his report at the July 18 Kennett Township Board of Supervisors meeting to an increasingly growing reality.
Home burglaries in the area are rising at the rate of sea levels.
Referring to a recent spate of crimes that have occurred throughout New Castle County, Gordon said that the two areas most affected border the township – Greenville, where the average cost of a home in 2022 was $706,620 -- and Hockessin, where an average home last year was valued at $378,418. According to a story that appeared in the News Journal on July 7, burglars have also targeted residences along the Kennett Pike corridor and are “bouncing back and forth” between Kennett Square and New Garden Township.
The perpetrators are known to be South American crime rings identified as “theft groups” or “crime tourists” that arrive in the U.S. under visa waiver programs. Once in the U.S., they join a highly-sophisticated global network of thieves who target the homes of mostly Asian and Middle Eastern families, who are known to keep expensive jewelry and cash in their homes rather than in a bank.
“We’ve been getting information from the New Castle County Police Department that there are organized Colombian gangs out of New York City targeting small business owners – especially Asians and Middle Easterners,” Gordon said. “They will identify a target, then split their crews and monitor the homeowners’ home and their business and figure out when they will not be home.
“Recently, we had a burglary where we believe that after talking with the New Castle County Police Department, the [victims] were targeted because they were members of a golf course, and there were several other members of that golf course who were burglarized as well. While these burglaries are not connected, they are both organized.”
This recent crime wave is not just confined to New Castle County and southern Chester County. These criminal enterprises are known to travel from state to state, targeting expensive homes and shipping the stolen items back to their home countries.
“You don’t think it can happen here, but with the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have-Nots,’ you are the ‘Haves,’ and they are coming here to get what you have,” said Gordon, who listed a series of home safety tips that was created by the New Castle County Police Department.
In other township business
The Board of Supervisors gave approval for the township to renew its contractual agreement with Sage Intacct -- a supplier of Cloud-based accounting software – for a period beginning on Aug. 15, 2023 and ending on Aug. 14, 2024. The new contract will cost $32,110.16, a $3,000 increase over the current contract. The contractual package from Sage Intacct will also include a bill pay automation capability that uses object character recognition and machine-learning to partially automate the accounts payable process, at 50 cents for every bill scanned.
Township Finance and Human Resources Director Amy Heinrich told the supervisors that the Finance Department also plans to purchase a $1,400 spend management module by the end of the year that provides automatic controls for expenditures, and decreases errors, reduces manual efforts and increases efficiency.
The board also voted to authorize the advertising of Ordinance 302 to amend its non-uniform pension plan administered by the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System. The revised plan provides that all non-uniformed township employees are eligible for entry into the pension plan on the first date of their employment, rather than after a one-year probationary period.
At the beginning of the year, the board adopted a similar amendment for the pension plan for the township police department that deleted a one-year probationary period for their pension to go into effect.
In his report to the board, Township Manager Eden Ratliff said the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development is conducting a statewide survey to collect information about cellular and broadband access throughout the commonwealth. The survey will influence where funds geared toward addressing digital access will be distributed in Pennsylvania. The survey can be found at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/PA_BCDA.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].
Tips on keeping your home safe
1. Consult with your homeowner’s association on the installation of Automated License Plate Readers at the entrance/exit of neighborhoods.
2. Secure Doors and Windows: Install solid exterior doors with deadbolt locks and reinforced frames. Use high-quality locks on all doors and consider upgrading to smart locks for added security. Install window locks on all accessible windows and reinforce glass with security film or laminates.
3. Install a comprehensive home security system that includes burglar alarms, motion sensors, and security cameras. Display signs or stickers indicating the presence of a security system, which can act as a deterrent.
4. Install motion-sensor lights around the perimeter of your home, particularly near entry points. Ensure that pathways, entrances, and dark areas are well-lit to minimize hiding spots for potential burglars.
5. Join or establish a neighborhood watch program to create a sense of community and collective security. Communicate with your neighbors, report suspicious activities, and look out for one another.
6. Keep valuable items, such as jewelry, cash, and important documents, in a secure safe or lockbox. Avoid leaving valuable items in plain sight through windows or in easily accessible areas.
7. Maintain a well-maintained appearance of your home to deter potential burglars. Use timers for lights and electronic devices to create the illusion of occupancy when you're away.
8. Avoid sharing vacation plans or posting about being away from home on social media. Burglars can exploit this information to target unoccupied houses.
9. Install security bars or grilles on vulnerable entry points such as basement windows or sliding doors. Consider reinforcing doors with door jammers or security plates to prevent forced entry.
10. Be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activities to local authorities. Consider installing surveillance cameras to monitor and record activities around your property.
11. Report suspicious persons and vehicles to 9-1-1
Source: New Castle County Police Department