In the wake of several MetroWest home burglaries that appeared to target homes where the occupants were on vacation — often in South Asia — the Hopkinton Police Department and the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office provided safety tips for homeowners.
In a statement released Monday, Police Chief Joseph Bennett said that the department and the DA’s office are jointly “currently investigating multiple home burglaries.”
“The ongoing investigation has determined that the individuals are likely gaining entry into homes through an upstairs window while residents are away and stealing large amounts of cash and jewelry,” Bennett said. “It is also believed that the individuals are able to interrupt security measures. The victims of these break-ins are often of Indian and Asian descent.”
The first break-in in Hopkinton of this type was reported in July 2019, according to Bennett. Four break-ins have been reported so far this year in Hopkinton, according to the press release.
“The safety of our community is our top priority,” said Bennett. “While this is an ongoing investigation, we encourage residents to be vigilant and want to ensure people know about basic security precautions that can help prevent crimes such as these.”
According to the police report issued on Monday, a homeowner who was out of the country noted that he received a snapshot from his home security camera on Sunday that showed “an individual outside his home with a flashlight looking into the house.” The homeowner stated that a neighbor was house-sitting.
As the summer vacation season winds down, Bennett encouraged Hopkinton residents who will be away for long periods of time to submit the House Check Request Form. Through the house check program, a Hopkinton police officer will check a home on a daily basis.
The Hopkinton Police Department also reminds residents to immediately report any suspicious activity. Anyone who may have information about these burglaries is asked to call the Hopkinton Police Detective Bureau at 508-497-3401.
An article on this subject was first published by the Boston Globe on Aug. 2. In response to an inquiry by the Independent, Middlesex County DA spokesperson Meghan Kelly shared additional information in an email on Aug. 10.
“A preliminary analysis of similarly situated investigations since January 2023 revealed approximately 16 other incidents in various cities and towns in Middlesex County along with others occurring elsewhere in Massachusetts and other states including New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maryland,” Kelly wrote in an Aug. 10 email. “The link between these cases are that the majority of the cases involve affluent Indian or Asian American families in affluent towns including Shrewsbury, Lincoln, Hopkinton, Weston, Chelmsford, Burlington, Sudbury and Carlisle.”
Stated Kelly: “This is an active and ongoing investigation, and we are pursuing every lead.”
“We know that during certain times of the year, when there are many weddings or family gatherings such as Diwali, there may be more jewelry in the home; this may be a time to be extra vigilant,” she added, noting that last year, “the spike in home invasions coincided with the weeklong Hindu festival of Diwali, a time when families often have gold jewelry on hand as part of the celebration.” This year, Diwali will be celebrated on Sunday, Nov. 12.
The Hopkinton Police Department shared the following safety tips to prevent burglaries:
- Keep all doors and windows locked, even when someone is home.
- Keep valuables hidden from plain sight. Store valuables in a heavy-duty safe that cannot be easily broken into or removed. You can also rent a safe deposit box at your bank.
- Do not store ladders in easily accessible areas.
- Consider installing an alarm system. A hardwired security system, while more of an investment, will not experience signal interference.
- Have good exterior lighting. Consider motion-sensitive lighting.
- Close curtains or blinds to prevent thieves from looking in.
- Trim back or remove landscaping that provides hiding places around vulnerable doors and windows.
- Make your home appear occupied by leaving lights on when you go out or leaving a radio or television on when you are away.
- To keep mail from building up while you’re away, place a hold on your mail while you are away or have someone trusted retrieve your mail.
- Do not talk about vacation plans in public areas or on social media, and don’t post real-time photos while away on vacation.
If you suspect that your home has been broken into:
- Do not enter the home. Call 911 immediately.
- Don’t touch anything or clean up until the police arrive and collect evidence.
- Be prepared to provide descriptions and/or photos of stolen valuables to police.
Kelly also suggested hiring a house-sitter if going on vacation and alerting neighbors and police of travel plans. If installing a home security system, she recommended using a high-quality system with sensors on all windows — not just the first floor. A good system does not rely on Wi-Fi to function and has an automatic backup to a hard drive or the cloud.