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Residential burglary is down across Salt Lake City, and the police are encouraging residents to keep up that trend.
The reduction comes short of what Police Chief Chris Burbank challenged the public to reach, though. Last year, at the annual Night Out Against Crime, he asked the public to protect themselves against burglary and help the police bring the crime down 25 percent by this year's Night Out, an event designed to encourage residents to participate in keeping their neighborhoods safe. Burbank issued the challenge from a podium in Westpointe Park, off of Colonel Road in west Salt Lake City, where he could see a garage door left open across the street exactly the sort of behavior that the police wanted people to stop.
At this year's Night Out event Tuesday, he reported that burglary is down 10 percent citywide.
"We obviously would like to see a whole bunch more than [10 percent], but at least it's headed in the right direction," Burbank said.
In the lead-up to the challenge, officers analyzed about 2,000 cases from June 2012 through May 2013 and found about a quarter of residential burglary victims had not secured their property such as leaving doors unlocked or garage doors open making it easy for a thief.
"It's crimes of convenience. If you make it that much more difficult, those crimes of convenience don't happen," the chief said.
Challenge or none, the police hope that residents will keep doing what they can to protect their property. Doors and garages left open still account for the majority of burglaries the police are seeing, Burbank said.
"I think there's some awareness that's taking place," Burbank said. "There's so much that plays into it, and I think that the quicker we respond to some things crimes like that often are serial, so someone gets away with one or two and they commit 10 or 12, so the more effective and efficient we are, the quicker we can put an end to that strain."
The police department posts tips on how people can protect themselves from residential and vehicle burglary on its website, http://www.slcpd.com. Salt Lake City police Detective Greg Wilkins advises drivers not to leave valuables in plain sight in their cars, and for residents to connect with their neighbors to watch their homes when they're gone. Another tip: Don't post on social media that you will be gone for two weeks on a vacation, letting would-be burglars know that your house is empty for that long, Wilkins said.
Erin Youngberg, chair of the Westpointe Community Council, came to Tuesday's event to recruit more block captains to the neighborhood watch program.
"It helps a lot of people to get to know each other," Youngberg said. "We think we know our neighbors, and we do, but it really helps. You get a little better tied together and watch out for each other better, and it seems like it's gone pretty well so far."