Tuesday, April 8, 2008

House flipping incidents increasing in Athens

By: Annie Porembski ap943605@ohio.edu

Destroyed furniture, a broken, tipped-over refrigerator and damaged property are what Ohio University students Greg Burns and Jimmy Dolezal found after being startled at home early Sunday morning.
“My mind was racing - we thought we heard a bang downstairs,” Burns told Athens Midday. “It was like an out-of-body experience - it was a mess."
Burns and Dolezal's house at 74 North Congress was one of three hit by a crime that police call "house flipping," where people break into a home and move furniture from its original location and cause damage. It is often seen as a prank.

See Greg Burns and roommate Jimmy Dolezal tell Athens Midday about being flipped
Lieutenant Jeff McCall of the Athens Police Department takes this crime very seriously.
“I would say that it would be a common prank in some peoples mind. In our mind it is not a prank” he says.

Lt. Jeff McCall talks about the consequences of house flipping
According to a 1996 article in the New York Times, about 90 percent of all residential break-ins are committed by amateur or semi-professional burglars, who consider things like difficulty of entry and opportunity for a fast getaway.

Police say homeowners and residents can easily avoid house flipping with many security options. Several of them, including window and door alarms, are available at many local stores. Price conscious homeowners can find many products on Amazon or Ebay.

Other ways that residential break-ins can be prevented are:

ºKeeping all windows locked, including basement and second-floor windows.
ºHaving a neighborhood watch program.
ºKeeping neighbors, friends and babysitters familiarized with safety practices.
ºLeaving all exterior lights on at night.
ºHaving peepholes or windows to be able to identify unknown visitors.
ºKeeping emergency numbers easily accessible.
ºNotifying police immediately after any intrusion.

Police are still investigating the incidents at the houses on North Congress. The residents of number 74 say they will never leave their doors unlocked again. They are now simply asking for an apology from the people who damaged their home.

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