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Police Go Back to Basics to Catch Burglars in Bellaire, TX

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December 13, 2011
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Police Go Back to Basics to Catch Burglars in Bellaire, TX

Home security may have gone high-tech with a few alarm companies, but sometimes low-tech can help, as police in one community are finding. Plagued by a rash of burglaries in neighborhoods accessible to intruders on foot, local law enforcement has taken to two wheels in an effort to sneak up on the perps – and catch them in the act. And it’s working! This report from Bellaire, Texas details the new approach, which is giving homeowners more peace of mind.

The security measures outside Michelle Mowad's house in Bellaire are obvious these days. She's got cameras, an alarm system and extra locks. All of it is her and her husband's response to a devastating burglary over the summer. "You feel very vulnerable, it's very upsetting to your whole outlook on life when the way you live is disrupted, so it's very upsetting," Mowad said. They feel they've done what they can to be proactive and Mowad's pleased to know Bellaire police are doing more as well, even if it seems a little old fashioned.

Some Background on the Problem

In the last six months, 68 percent of the Bellaire's home burglaries have been in the neighborhoods east of Interstate 610. So the police department is trying something a little old-fashioned to catch the criminals: they have added more bike patrols into the mix, and on Friday we went along. They are focusing on the eastside of the West Loop, where there has been a cluster of burglaries in the last month.  "It's one of the tools that we're using to address the burglary problem," Bellaire Police Department Assistant Chief Byron Holloway said.

How Bikes Help

The crooks' methods are pretty much the same: if no one answers the door when they ring, they force their way in and steal electronics, jewelry and computers. If someone does answer, they come up with an excuse and move on. They are oftentimes initially on foot, so two wheels can be better than four. "They're quiet, they can move around neighborhoods, they can move through parks and parking lots and it puts officers in places to where normally they'd have to park the car and walk to get to," Holloway said. Bottom line is the bikes allow the officers to sneak up on burglars and if they spot them as they're making their getaway in a car.

Sounds like the same list of things burglars target all over the US.

Closing in on Residential Crime

"We've got radios and we also have our patrol officers on the streets also. Can't outrun a radio," Bellaire Police Department Lt. Bill Bledsoe said. For the Mowads, who were cleaned out, they'll take all the help they can get: "Any increase in security for the neighbors and for ourselves and for our kids, that's what we want." They urge residents to report any activity that may not seem normal for their neighborhoods. That's an appeal all police departments would make.

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