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Break-ins on the rise in Burlington; how to avoid becoming a victim

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 4:44 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 5:09 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Car break-ins and thefts are on the rise in Burlington, and some residents wonder why police are not doing more to investigate. Here’s a look at the data and how you can avoid becoming a victim.

A viewer captured video on a personal dashboard camera and an in-home camera of a car break-in. He says the incident happened Saturday night after he left his car unlocked. “I am concerned for my public safety,” said the viewer, who asked that we not use his name. “This isn’t the Burlington that I’ve known for 16 years and it has gotten progressively worse over the years. It just isn’t what I envision Burlington to be.”

According to open data from the city of Burlington, motor vehicle thefts appear to be on the rise. In 2017, there were 269 reported incidents. Numbers dropped in 2018 but increased the next two years to 337 in 2020. Already in 2021, 323 incidents have been reported.

It’s not just cars. Leah Gardiner lives in Burlington. She says her apartment has been broken into in recent months. “When I reported to the police, they let me know that there are many incidents happening. The night that someone was trying to come in our window, apparently there were multiple attempted home break-ins around town,” Gardiner said.

Victims of non-emergency calls, like property crimes, are directed by police to file complaints through the department’s online incident reporting portal, with no guarantee of a follow from police.

“You call up dispatch and you’re just informed to file a report via their web portal. Even until now I still haven’t been contacted,” the man who captured the video said.

WCAX News has reached out multiple times to the Burlington Police for an interview about these incidents and how they are handled by the department but we have not heard back.

Shelburne Police Cpl. Jon Marcoux says break-ins happen in his town as well, and he says there are things you can do to prevent it. “Burglars like to do their thing without being detected. So lighting is good-- don’t leave them concealment. You know if you can trim your bushes around that are close to the house that might be a good thing. Basically don’t make yourself a target. Lock car doors, hide valuables,” Marcoux advised.

“Right after that, we bought our own security camera. It was a little pricey but we put it up on our porch,” Gardiner said. “I’m just way more careful about making sure everything is locked up.”

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