Thursday, October 16, 2008

Moving day burglaries?

Yesterday morning, I met with our Crime Analysis Unit, in preparation for our ADUDAT meeting later in the day. We were reviewing recent burglary trends, and discussing the recent uptick in burglaries at apartment complexes. In a few of these burglaries, thieves loaded up the small electronics (iPods, digital cameras, laptops and the like) in laundry baskets. A number of televisions were taken. I have often wondered aloud how someone makes of with a box full of stuff without anyone in the complex noticing. Better yet, how to you spirit away a 50" plasma TV in broad daylight?

Crime Analyst Char Estes had an answer. She noted that many of our recent burglaries happened on September 30 and October 1. She theorized that the large number of tenants moving in and out around the first of the month provided cover for a couple of blokes wrestling with a TV, and that someone carrying a box or laundry basket through the hallway or parking lot would not attract much attention. Interesting thought.

After our meeting, I did a little analysis of my own. There have been 348 residential burglaries of apartments so far this year. Here's where those have occurred. It gets a little complicated, because some apartments have a single address for the entire complex, some have separate addresses on each building, and there are even some with separate addresses for each apartment. The larger the dot, the more burglaries at an individual street address--from one to five.


The map essentially shows the location of multiple-family dwellings in Lincoln. The cluster just south of the downtown area is the densest concentration of apartments, although the bigger complexes are at the fringe of the city--where more land was available for development. Here's the burglaries of apartments by day of the month for the 3,760 apartment burglaries in Lincoln since January 1, 2000:


Char's observation about first-of-the-month burglaries proves to be correct: there is a significant spike on the first day of the month. I'm not quite sure what this means. What do you think?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

One might say that the map offers strong hints as to where apartment dwellers should (and should not) live. I've always preached that anyone moving into any new (to them) dwelling should have the locks changed (key copies to the landlord as required) immediately, before moving any stuff in. You have to trust the landlord, but you should never trust previous tenants or any of the multitudes of their acquaintances that might have a copy of their keys. It's not just apartments you need to lock change when you move in, thoiugh. This even applies to buying a new house in Firethorn or the Ridge, etc, because you wouldn't believe how many key copies go to contractors and subcons. Change that alarm code first thing, too.

The people that are least likely to be able to scrape up the cash for a lock change around move-in time are those with very low incomes, which is unfortunately a very high risk demographic group for burglary/robbery/assault/larceny victimization. Economic circumstances dictate that they pretty much have to live where the criminals also live, so they are a ready target.

By the way, and this might be a leading question, but does the burglary rate at the Lodge Apartments differ significantly from rate at Highpointe Apartments (right across the road from one another)?

Anonymous said...

This could also be due to the fact that, while moving into an apartment, one tends to have a pile of goodies in the back of their truck/suv/whatever unguarded as they haul heavy furniture through narrow hallways and up flights of stairs. You can pretty much guarantee a few minutes of uninterrupted scavenging.
And as they come back outside for the next item, the door is probably propped open allowing the other tenants to view the goodies already inside.

Anonymous said...

Is the spike on the 1st irrespective of whether the 1st falls on a weekday or on a weekend? I believe that the majority of working apt dwellers are usually at work (or school) during the weekdays, which would get them out of the apt for the burglars. My hunch is that more on-the-1st burgs happen on the weekdays than on the weekends, but I could well be wrong about that.

Anonymous said...

This one is not on my interest list.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I don't know what it means, but if you ever see someone running away with this TV set, call the police because it's mine!

Anonymous said...

ARRRRG:

Two words... Grow up!

Obviously you don't have enough to do during your shift. Use your so called creativity at crime prevention not grade school humor.

Anonymous said...

The difference looks too large to be chance, especially with the large number of cases over nine+ years. Hard to say about the cause, though. Nothing sticks out, but several possibilities come to my mind. More moving in/moving out activity causes more exposure of the stuff to potential theives, and more "cover" for strangers or burglars. It might be more likely for security doors to be propped open on move-in days. Maybe there are a significant number of these that are false reports by disgruntled tenants as a parting shot to the landlord, or an insurance fraud. Could it have anything to do with damage deposits?

Murph said...

Some clown (or possibly a pirate, we may never know for sure) broke into my place while I was in Iraq. Since my parents were only coming by once a week or so to check stuff out it could have been any time after Jan 1 2007 that this occurred.

Thankfully both the firearms stolen were recovered, but my remote control helicopter is lost to the ages. :-(

ARRRRG!!!! said...

@ Anon 5:37,

I don't post at work....nanana!

Give a hoot, don't pollute.

Zen said...

Many leases won't let you change the locks-you don't own the property, just saying. Id give Ms. Estes a cookie for her astute theory.

Anonymous said...

Could the people who moved out on the 31st (or there "friends") be coming back on the 1st and finding a few goodies while the new tenents are getting a pizza, hauling the second load, or something like that?

Mark Bach said...

Are they being REPORTED on the first, is the time span of the burglary ending on the first or is the to/from time span ALL on the first?

I had a recurring stolen auto problem that was similar. Turned out the insurance company required the dealership to do an inventory on the first of the month and hence a surge of reports on that date.

Tom Casady said...

Mark: Great question. In the graphed data, the first of the month is the FROM date--the earliest possible date the burglary could have occurred. The first day of the month, though, is also the most frequent TO date.

There have been some interesting theories here. That's what I'm normally thinking when we discover something like this: what could explain it? Sometimes, you can test your theory; sometimes not.

Anonymous said...

Zen 6:54,

Sure, they need a copy of the keys, or sometimes they need the lockset to accept their passkeys. No problem, you just pay them a fee and they stop by and have their maintenance people change the lockset. I've had that done before at a large complex upon move-in. This achieves the same thing, which is that previous residents and acquaintances no longer have the right key to enter your apt or rental house.

Again, you have to trust your landlord, but not any previous residents (or their buddies).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that rent generally falls due on the first of the month. In addition, low income families who receive ADC, often times, are dead broke by the first of the month. I believe their ADC arrives between the 2nd and the
5th. Finally, if they were not eligible for continued ADC or food stamps,they would also be tapped out.

ellenrose said...

I noticed the police chief blogs at 5 and 6 in the morning, even before his official shift begins; I really respect that.