Lock those car doors—theft from vehicles is happening at an alarming rate in the Back Bay. Of the 31 crimes listed on a handout provided at a Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) Public Safety meeting on Oct. 25, 17 were larceny from vehicle.
Though the Back Bay is generally a safe neighborhood, theft from cars remains the number one crime, according to D-4 Officer Chris Shoulla.
In one instance this past month, a lunch box and some change were stolen out of an unlocked car, and in another instance, a car may have been unlocked and laptops and some ungraded schoolwork (probably a teacher’s car) were stolen.
Sometimes it’s not enough to just make sure your doors are locked. On Commonwealth Avenue, a rear car window was broken and a phone was stolen, and on Exeter Street, a window was broken and a backpack stolen. Golf clubs were stolen from two different cars this past month.
Shoulla said that brand-name backpacks, specifically Tumi brand, were among the hot items this month. One stolen backpack contained $12,000 worth of dental equipment.
“I’ve never seen so many car break-ins in one month,” Officer Shoulla said. He stressed the importance of locking cars, as well as not leaving anything visible in your car that would make it more tempting to break in. He added that even leaving things in trunks could be risky, as people have found a way to open the truck from the inside of the car if there is manual latch, so even if it’s out of sight, it could still be stolen. This was the case with some of the golf clubs that were stolen, Shoulla said.
Charlie Neckyfarow of NABB said that as a resident of the Back Bay, he sees that this is a growing problem. “In the past, I got the impression that it wasn’t often that people tried to break into a car,” he said.
But he, too, has been the victim of car theft. About five years ago, he said that some change he used for parking meters as well as a couple of golf clubs, were stolen from his vehicle.
“I reported it; I determined that you never leave anything in your car that someone would want to steal and you don’t leave anything visible in your car that [might be stolen] and just [don’t] leave your car unlocked,” he said.
“I was flabbergasted [when I saw] the number of break-ins to cars,” Neckyfarow said. He said he’s seen high numbers of break-ins on police logs before, but this was especially high, and wants to get the word out to his neighbors to be cautious about what they leave in their cars.
Another topic of discussion at the public safety meeting was bicycles. “Bicycles are getting out of control,” Neckyfarow said, with “teenagers racing on sidewalks.”
A resident on Berkeley Street said that bikes are especially “out of control” on Berkeley Street, and that people are still riding on the sidewalk on Beacon Street even though there is a bike lane. “Kids are going to get hurt,” he said.
Though bike riding on the sidewalk is not officially prohibited (except for in City parks and on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall), the Berkeley Street resident said he would like to see the laws regarding bicycles changed. He said he suggested to Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gina Fiandaca that a sticker with the rules of the road should be placed on each BlueBike, Boston’s public bike-share system.
“Bicycles were not a problem until two years ago—the ordinance needs to be changed,” he said.
Officer Shoulla said that bikes in the city are a work in progress and “it’s taking a little more time than it should.”
Tresspassing on Berkely Street
The same Berkeley resident reported at the public safety meeting that for the past two to three weeks a person with long hair had been sitting on his front steps from about 3-5 a.m. every day. He said that he and his wife have had almost no issues regarding this sort of thing in the almost 40 years they have lived there. Though it has since stopped, he does not know the reason why the man was out there.
He said he spoke to his newspaper delivery person, who saiid he sees the person around the area. His whole inner entryway is full of heavy marijuana smoke, and he said he does not have a light on the outside of his building, only in the vestibule behind the front door. In addition to the marijuana smoke, he said that the person urinates on the property, puts his joints out on the masonry, and leaves debris.
Officer Shoulla recommended that the resident put up a “No Tresspassing” sign, as well as a motion light on the outside of the building for deterring people from hanging out on private property.
“We’re shuffling the deck at this point,” Shoulla said regarding homeless people in the area. Once they are moved along out of a neighborhood, they settle in a different one. He also recommended that people who live in apartment buildings bring in their neighbors’ packages so there is nothing luring people to stop and approach private property.