ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The St. Paul Police Department has launched a new effort to crack down on home burglaries.
Officer Amy Boyer grew up on the east side of St. Paul. Today, she helps protect it.
"I love it. It's something new every day," she says
Right now, Boyer is patrolling off the main city streets and on the beaten path so-to-speak. She's driving through alleys looking for things burglars would consider an opportunity.
"We're basically looking for an overhead garage door or a service side door that's open," says Boyer.
The alley patrol is a grass roots, feet-on-the ground kind of policing. Officers are encouraged to get out of their cars if they see open or unlocked doors and check things out, close the doors and meet the neighbors. It's part of a new citywide crime fighting effort, after a spike in residential burglaries. There have been seven percent more reports than this time last year.
"We need to have the contact prior to that, previous to something happening and say hey, I work in your neighborhood and this is what I see and this is what you can do to help us," says Commander Jill McRae of the Eastern District.
Back in the alley, Officer Boyer sees an open door. She wants to make sure someone is home, but doesn't find anyone. She makes contact with the nearby neighbors, then closes the door for the person who accidentally left it open and leaves a note to let the homeowner know.
"Myself as a patrol officer would rather prevent a burglary than respond to a burglary," says Boyer.
Since the new patrol started, officers have handed out about 500 notes to St. Paul homeowners - just friendly reminders about how to prevent burglaries.
Chris Trembley has lived on the east side for 13 years. His car has been broken into twice. Chris says he likes the extra set of eyes keeping watch over the neighborhood.
"I think it's a good thing. There are probably people in alleyways that don't really need to be in alleyways," says Chris.
Officers are also checking that residents have their house numbers of on their garages and leaving a note if they don't. It's a city law to make sure emergency crews can find you if they need to.
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