By John Schwing
WESTPORT — A home’s motion detector senses the presence of intruders.
The alarm company monitoring the detector alerts police.
Police officers are dispatched to the scene.
But before officers arrived within minutes, the intruders — after smashing a sliding glass door to gain entry — flee.
That scenario played out at a Westport home in a woodsy neighborhood north of downtown late last week.
Although the police investigation into the break-in is continuing and there have been no arrests, there is — at least in the opinion of one neighborhood resident — a small silver lining.
And that bright bit is the professional, considerate way officers conducted themselves, according to the neighbor, who spoke with the Westport Journal on condition that his identity or address not be published.
After being informed by the absentee homeowner that a motion detector spotted intruders on the premises, the man saw police were already on the scene — and was told the suspects fled shortly after breaking in.
Then, in the way good Westport neighbors do things, the man went to Home Depot to buy plywood to board up the shattered glass door in the house next door.
When the man returned, he found one police officer was still there to meet him. Even though investigators had pretty much wrapped up processing the crime scene, he said the officer remained just to walk him through the house and make sure it was secure.
The overall experience, the man said, left him “impressed” with Westport police. They were patient, knowledgeable and professional, he said. “I don’t have enough good words to say.”
As concerning as that home burglary was to the man and his neighbors, Lieut. David Wolf, the Westport police spokesman, said there has not been a rise in break-ins this year compared to 2020.
That stands in contrast to this year’s surge in stolen vehicles and thefts from cars (the majority of them unlocked) in town and elsewhere, which in October prompted Police Chief Foti Koskinas to describe the problem as, “It’s Grant Theft Auto out there,” to a gathering of Compo area neighbors.
The number of Westport home burglaries this year — 29 as of Dec. 14 — is the same number reported in 2020, according to Wolf.
With the rising number of vehicle-related larcenies, Wolf was asked if there might be a heightened risk of home break-ins in a largely suburban setting like Westport?
In general, Wolf said, police have not found a strong link between thefts from vehicles at local homes and break-ins at those same dwellings.
Nonetheless, he noted, there have been a few incidents where intruders, emboldened by stealing from an unlocked car, have gone on to enter the owner’s unlocked house.
A basic preventive measure to help ward off home burglaries — as police officials have repeatedly advised regarding car thefts — is to keep doors locked, Wolf said.
Other burglary-prevention tips offered by Wolf: “If you have an alarm system make sure it is set upon leaving. Have lights on timers. Have a trusted neighbor or friend retrieve packages and mail so it does not pile up.”