Police in Newton, Massachusetts, are telling people to lock their doors in response to five home break-ins over the past month, of which all of the victims were Asian residents.
New video from police shows a person wearing a mask and hat arriving at a home on Dedham Street on June 19 with missing dog flyers. Police believe the person in the video may have broken into the house, as well as a house on Helene Road.
Scott Chin, the owner of the Dedham Street home, said the back door was smashed in.
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The burglar "probably was only here for 10 to 20 minutes and went through the whole house and took what he needed," he said.
Chin wasn't home at the time, but he said priceless valuables were stolen.
”Unfortunately some of the stuff was my parents', we had just lost them last year to COVID … a lot of stuff that can’t be replaced," he said.
Jewelry, cash and handbags were stolen from the five homes that were broken into between June 13 and July 10. They all involved forced entry during the daytime and on a weekend, when no one was home.
Since the first in the string of break-ins on June 13, Newton police have been actively investigating, which includes canvassing by knocking on doors in each neighborhood and speaking with residents.
Newton Break-in Dates and Locations
- 6/13/21 – 900 block of Walnut Street
- 6/19/21 – 600 block of Dedham Street
- 6/20/21 – Helene Road
- 6/27/21 – 700 block of Quinobequin Road
- 7/10/21 – Country Club Road
Police have added approximately 80 directed patrols throughout the area to date and are working with law enforcement partners as they search for people involved.
Detectives are actively seeking to learn if Asian residents are being specifically targeted but said they do not have any definitive information yet.
"These are Asian families, but there's nothing to indicate any hate crime associated with it at this time," Newton Police Chief John Carmichael said at a news conference Wednesday.
"We are trying very much to understand if this is Asians being targeted," Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller added. "Our Asian community and the AAPI community has been reeling in the last 18 months. It's been a very difficult period, and to have this on top of it at this difficult time is disturbing to all of us."
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office is also involved in the investigation in case there are hate crimes involved.
"These are very concerning," Ryan said, "both for public safety and because of who has been the victim of these offenses."
Earlier this year, the city experienced two sets of break-ins, the first on March 15 and the second on April 9. Those breaks did not indicate that anyone was specifically targeted and investigations led to the arrest of three men. In total, 45 houses in Newton have been broken into in 2021.
Carmichael and Fuller are holding a community update on the break-ins on Thursday at 8 p.m.
The Newton Police Department is also reminding residents to lock all doors and windows when leaving home. For those leaving for vacation or an extended period of time, go to the Newton police website to report a closed house in excess of five days.
Police recommend telling a trusted neighbor or family member to check your home periodically, not to post on social media that you will be away from home and to stop all mail and newspaper deliveries. Authorities encourage homeowners to make sure shrubbery does not hide any windows, using a timer to turn inside lights on and off and to have motion detector lights outside the home.
Unusual behavior in the neighborhood should be reported to the Newton police at (617) 796-2100. The department’s Community Services Bureau can be reached for additional assistance at (617) 796-2103.