Burglars get more creative in Carmel region

Police say the burglars have been meticulously gathering information on residents' movements, and copying house keys without the owners' knowledge.

The Carmel area has been struck by a wave of sophisticated and well-planned burglaries in recent months, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Haifa. Police say the burglars have been watching homes and meticulously gathering information on residents' movements, gaining entry to houses on various pretexts so they can see what is inside, and even copying house keys without the owners' knowledge. Delivery personnel for local restaurants have also reportedly been providing information to the burglars. According to the report, there have been several incidents in which burglars have gained entry to houses by pretending to be technicians for the HOT cable television company, even wearing the red shirts worn by genuine technicians. While supposedly checking the video connections, they scrutinize the home's contents and even copy the house keys. In one incident, burglars gained access to a house in Rehov Ra'anan by approaching the owner and pretending to be representatives of the Clalit health services fund who wanted to organize a mammogram for her. They "arranged" an appointment for her at a certain date and time at a specific clinic. When she arrived at the clinic, she was surprised to discover that in fact there was no appointment. She then returned home, only to discover that her house had been broken into and that numerous items had been stolen. In another incident, a burglar pretended to be a member of the Home Front Command collecting old gas masks. When the apartment's owner said she had already given her masks up, he thanked her and asked for a glass of water. While she went to get it from the kitchen, he copied the keys, and several days later, the home was robbed. And in another incident, burglars rang an elderly resident's doorbell and pretended to be representatives of a charity that assists the elderly, but after they were inside he became suspicious and began shouting for help. When neighbors came running, the burglars ran off. According to the report, delivery staff for local restaurants have also been passing information on to burglars. One woman said she had not been suspicious when the delivery man had seemed chatty and asked her questions about her life, and she had even given him a large tip, but several days later when her home was robbed without any damage to the door she realized that while they were speaking he had probably copied her keys. Haifa police chief Dudu Ben-Atia said police were well aware of the sophisticated tactics being used in recent burglaries, but the matter should be kept in perspective. He said the number of apartment burglaries in Haifa had actually dropped, from 13 to 15 per day in 2006 to three to four per day in 2007, and the number of arrests had risen by "several hundred percent" between 2006 and 2008. "We are using all our power and all our abilities to assist the situation, and the results can be seen in the field," Ben-Atia said. "There is a drastic reduction in the number of burglaries and property crimes, and police are pursuing criminals. In recent months there have been numerous arrests and today some of the burglars are behind bars."