Boston Police say unlocked buildings a prime target for theft, trespassing

Boston Police reminding residents to lock front doors to prevent break-ins

BOSTON — If you’ve lived in or around Boston, you’ve certainly heard of thieves breaking into people’s homes.

While the holidays are a great time to sit back, relax and enjoy time with family and friends, it is also prime time for criminals to act. Whether it’s an online scam or breaking into your home, when December rolls around the rule of thumb is to sleep with one eye open.

With that in mind, Boston Police are asking people to be mindful that thieves are just waiting for the right opportunity to make their move. If you don’t give them a chance, they’re less likely to commit the crime.

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The number one tip? Invest in a lock system for your front doors.

Typically, most crimes happen in buildings with two sets of doors, where its not uncommon for the first set of doors to be unlocked, allowing access to the front vestibule for mail and package deliveries. Police say that puts criminals one step closer to your items and your home.

“I see this all with the camera,” said Ryan Ankner, a Back Bay resident and owner of Ank Fit Personal Training. “You see a guy trying the door, we have people come in and hang out in the lobby for 25 minutes at two in the morning.”

Ankner says he’s seen a revolving door of criminal activity caught on his surveillance camera.

“If I’m here it’s fine, but I’d rather not have to police this for the rest of time,” said Ankner.

Ankner says he’s often in the building standing guard since he owns the personal training studio on the first floor of the building and also lives there.

He says he’s lost count of the recent run-ins with trespassers and thieves in his front vestibule.

“I ordered face towels for the bathroom they came, opened it up, decided that’s not what they wanted and threw them up in the air like confetti," said Ankner.

Ankner says one suspect even stooped as low as to snatch dog wipes delivered to his front entryway.

The most frustrating part, he says, was that his surveillance camera has caught the same culprits returning over and over, swiping packages and sometimes trying to pry open the locked door that leads to the rest of the building.

He says he even recognized of the those repeat offenders while peering out the window.

“I see the guy go by and I just got a surge of adrenaline," said Ankner. “I ran outside and had a little chat with him.”

With crimes like these on the rise across Boston this time of year, Boston police are recommending that people invest in locks for the outside door that leads into the building, only allowing inside access for deliveries through a key, keypad or bell system.

“We’re looking into that, we’re going to get it done shortly,” said Ankner.

“Any step to not necessarily catch someone but deter them at least," said Victoria Skomial, a South End resident.

Skomial’s building has two doors at the entrance, both which require separate key codes to get in. However, just this past weekend the outer door wasn’t completely shut and an intruder took advantage of the situation.

“They took a screwdriver and tried to pry the other door open," said Skomial. “They completely mangled the other set of doors. Luckily my neighbor heard them and scared them away and called the police.”

The close call prompted her to take her security up a notch. Skomial plans to install a metal panel in the interior door to shield it from being pried open in the future.

“If they’re just looking for a place to sleep that’s one thing, but if it’s more than that it’s really scary especially where we were all home,” said Skomial.

In addition to the criminal concerns, people say that having an unlocked outer door might attact people who are just trying to find a place to sleep.

Some residents, however, say they’re heistant about the concept of the outer door being locked as they worry it could complicate getting mail or deliveries in general.

For those not comfortable with giving out a special code or key for deliveries, police say they should arrange to have their packages delivered to a neighbor’s house if they’re home or to a designated pick up spot in the neighborhood. Some businesses will hold your packages until you arrive, or for Amazon orders, users can choose to have it delivered to a designated Amazon locker.