Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Beer burglars return

Ah, spring: the daffodils, the pansies, and the burglars. As the weather warms, the thieves awake from their winter hibernation. Thirstier than ever, they prowl the 'burbs looking for the lucrative target: an open garage equpped with a fridge.

We had two "beer burglaries" over the weekend. I'm not sure if the bottle of Woodbridge chardonnay counts. Needless to say, that one was at the far southern edge of the city. The Rockets do not drink chardonnay.

Beer burglaries, of course, are vastly under-reported. Victims either don't bother to call the police, or in some cases don't realize exactly why the inventory has been shrinking. These cases normally occur in the evening, prior to ma and pa's bedtime. Too many people leave the garage door open until the lights are shut off for the night:

Although it is likely reported at a low rate in relation to the actual incidence, the crime shows a distinctivepattern that is rather obvious to Lincoln residents:

The clusters on this map simply depict the parts of Lincoln where you are likely to find garages with spare refrigerators therein. The tilt towards the southeast is apparent with a healthy dose of the Highlands in the northwest, and Regent Heights in the northeast.

Beer isn't the only target of garage shopping, though. Golf clubs, for example, were taken in 22 residential burglaries last year. Think about it: a thousand dollars worth of thunder sticks in a tidy package with a convenient carrying handle. Tools and bicycles are also particularly vulnerable to this type of open garage door theft.

Last May, I reported on an elegantly simple project the Southeast Team was engaged in to reduce these burglaries. They finished the year with 83 open garage burglaries, 43 fewer than their average in the preceeding three years--a reduction of 34%. Not bad at all.


Anonymous said...


As a fellow Rocket I must ask your favorite flavor of Boones Farm?

HeHateMe said...

I'm not a Rocket or a pirate but I liked the Boones Farm Strawberry Hill the best.

Anonymous said...

Have you the resources and budget to keep doing that type of "close and lock your garage door" type of citizen education? I read on CPOP that, after a while, without repeating the message every so often, the citizenry tends to "regress to the dumb" (my interpretation), aka return to "condition white", and forget what you warned them about some time ago.

Anonymous said...

A favorite quote by Homer Simpson...."Mmmmmmm beeeer

West A Dad said...

Had you posted this yesterday, I might've thought "Ha, April Fools".

Anonymous said...

Strawberry Hill, hands down.

Anonymous said...

It does drive me up a wall when I see an open garage door with no residents in sight. I'm not sure what can be done to drive the point home further without using a ridiculous amount of resources, but your SE team did make a huge dent in the problem.

I wonder if it's an idyllic suburban culture thing, a "I don't want to admit that there's any crime in my area, so I'll live like there isn't". Sort of a blinders-on, crackpot existentialism; if they don't acknowledge it, then to them, it doesn't exist. We see how well that attitude works when you pull out into traffic without looking - CRASH!

I just did a CrimeView search for all incident types with a 1,000-foot radius around home, and there were no incidents at all (it's kind of a "bubble" around here), but that's no reason to get complacent and start leaving the garage door up.

Don't make yourself or your property a soft target. Once being careful becomes habitual, it's no extra trouble at all.

Tom Casady said...


Its a message that has to be constantly repeated, but I am convinced by the data that it's getting through. Fortunately, the effort involved is not extensive--it requires far less so then investigating a few burglaries.

I can't tell you exactly how long the "close and lock your garage door" message lasts, but I have a theory that I've posted before:

"If you read about it in the paper, the half-life of that knowledge is about 30 minutes. But when Officer Paul Aksamit is talking to you on the front stoop at 3:00 AM, it will cause you to double check the garage door before bedtime for the remainder of your life, and you will pass the habit on to the next six generations."

Anonymous said...

One unrelated thing I saw on CrimeView: Two murders are listed in Lincoln for the last 90 days, but wasn't one of them (on 1/5/2008) a justifiable homicide, not a murder? Am I wrong on that?

Maybe CrimeView just lumps all homicides together or something like that, but unless you look at the summary detail, you might think we'd had two 2008 murders (to Omaha's 11, by the way), not just a single murder.

Tom Casady said...


That was a keystroke error. Thanks very much, I made the correction.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, the beer pirates boarded an unsuspecting vessel and struck again! I'm referring to A8-030368. An open garage door, as usual.

I think that the victim(s) were probably rental tenants, since the property owner has another address of record.

Anonymous said...

I wish to thank the police officer who stopped at our house in Pine Lake Heights to let us know one of our garage was inadvertantly left open. It was 2:30 AM, when the door bell rang. We were alarmed to see the police at our door, but happy he stopped to notify us. We didn't get the officers name, but thank you for keeping us safe!