Authorities in Haddon Township caution that residents should continue to lock up their belongings, cars, and homes to avoid becoming easy marks for theft as the weather warms.
By Matt Skoufalos
The change of seasons can unfortunately bring with it an increase in crime if home and property owners fail to secure their residences and belongings. Haddon Township police caution that a string of recent bicycle thefts are early indicators that residents should take precautions to avoid becoming victims of theft and burglary.
According to state police crime data, 259 larcenies and 59 burglaries or burglary attempts were reported to Haddon Township police in 2014; in 2015, those numbers were 257 and 61, respectively. In the first three months of 2016, police have already received reports of 49 larcenies and eight burglaries or attempted burglaries in Haddon Township.
The rates of incidence for both types of crime are typically highest in the summer, according to 2014 research published by the U.S. Department of Justice. In “Seasonal Patterns in Criminal Victimization Trends,” researchers Janet L. Lauritsen and Nicole White report that “rates of household property victimization appeared highest in summer and lowest in either winter or spring” in 16 of 17 years’ worth of crime data collected from 1993 to 2010.
“The most common pattern for household property crimes was that victimization occurred at higher rates during the summer than during other seasons,” the report notes. “Among household property crimes, burglary showed the largest average difference (11 percent) between the peak (summer) and trough (winter) seasonal rates.
“Compared to summer rates, household property victimization rates were an average of about 7 percent lower in winter, 8 percent lower in spring, and 3 percent lower in fall,” Lauritsen and White wrote.
With the change of seasons imminent, police are already being alerted to incidents of burglary and property theft related to the warming weather. Last week, Haddon Township police apprehended a residential burglary suspect who allegedly broke into three homes in an afternoon; they also charged a pair of men in connection with a string of bicycle thefts dating back weeks or more.
Just after 5 p.m. on April 22, Haddon Township officers were called to the 100 block of South Atlantic Avenue when a resident allegedly saw a man walk onto her property and into her unlocked shed. The man fled on a bicycle, and was detained by authorities as he rode past the Haddon Township police station. He was identified as 52-year-old Derrick K. Gilmore of Camden City; Gilmore was charged with criminal attempt burglary/theft and possession of drug paraphernalia, and was released pending a court appearance.
Six days later, Gilmore was picked up near the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden City by Haddon Township detectives. He had allegedly been identified via residential surveillance footage in connection with a bicycle theft from the 100 block of East Park Avenue. Gilmore was charged with theft and given a court date.
On April 25, detectives from Haddon Township and Collingswood arrested 22-year-old Audubon resident Christopher M. Gallo in connection with numerous bicycle thefts throughout Westmont. In recent weeks, Gallo is alleged to have stolen bicycles from three separate properties in the 100 block of Utica Avenue, another from a yard in the 200 block of Emerald Avenue, three more on three consecutive days from a second residence also in the 200 block of Emerald Avenue, an eighth from a property in the unit block of Emerald Avenue, and a ninth from the yard of a Chestnut Avenue home.
Haddon Township police said all the bikes Gallo stole were allegedly sold throughout Camden City; one was recovered by Haddon Township detectives from a Camden City corner store. Gallo was remanded to the Camden County Jail pending court appearances.
“It bears mentioning that Gallo targeted bicycles he could see from the street, all of which were left unlocked,” said Haddon Township Police Captain Scott Bishop.
“While we live in a great community, we are unfortunately not immune to criminal opportunists, especially if we make it just a little too easy,” he said.
Bishop described most of the crimes in question as “preventable with just a little extra effort,” and encouraged residents to lock up their belongings as a matter of habit.
All persons charged with a crime are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. An arrest is not a conviction.