PUBLISHED: 4:37 PM on Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Knowing neighbors, locking doors key in burglary, theft prevention
Who are the people in your neighborhood?

The people that you meet who live on your street can be a major preventive measure in avoiding thefts, said Ed Mercer, patrol sergeant for the Juneau Police Department.

While locking doors and windows is a primary safety habit, knowing who your neighbors are and talking with them can help to stop burglaries, he said.

Within the last two weeks, JPD has investigated a string of residential burglaries in the Mendenhall Valley. Mercer said that burglars often watch a person's activity to get a sense of when to enter a home.

"Be on the look out for unfamiliar faces or vehicles driving around the block. Be vigilant, take note of it and call the police," Mercer said. "Take a walk around the residence to see unfamiliar things like footprints in the snow or marks around a window. Be more wary of what's going on around the house."

Mercer said knowing neighbors and offering to look after each other's property is effective, as well.

"A lot of times we don't like nosey neighbors, but that can be a deterrent in theft," Mercer said. "Just get to know your neighbors a little better."

According to the Web site,, burglaries are committed most often by young males under 25 years of age looking for items that are small, expensive, and can easily be converted to cash.

Favorite items are cash, jewelry, guns, watches, laptop computers, VCRs, video players, CDs and other small electronic devices are high on the list. Quick cash is needed for living expenses and drugs.

Ordinary household tools like screwdrivers, channel-lock pliers, small pry bars, and small hammers are most often used by burglars.

According the Web site, a burglar's selection process is simple by choosing an unoccupied home with the easiest access and with the best escape routes.

Mercer said car riflings also are common and most often occur when a vehicle has been left unlocked.

"People aren't securing their doors and property is getting taken. Don't leave anything valuable in your car," Mercer said. "We have a mentality in Southeast Alaska in general that it's a safe place. You have to look out for your property and look out for yourself."