Newton police detectives are investigating whether a series of five house break-ins since mid-June specifically targeted Asian residents, the department said in a statement Tuesday.
During the investigation into those house breaks, police said “important commonalities” became apparent to detectives: All victims are of Asian descent, and the incidents all happened on weekend days while no one was home.
The break-ins, including one reported Sunday on Country Club Road, all involved forced entry into the homes, according to police. None of the residents were home during the thefts, which primarily targeted jewelry, cash, and handbags, police said.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office has been notified, police said.
“The detectives are actively seeking to learn if Asians are being specifically targeted but do not have any definitive information yet,” the statement said.
Police Chief John Carmichael and Mayor Ruthanne Fuller will hold a community update on Zoom to discuss the break-ins on Thursday at 8 p.m., according to the statement.
The five break-ins occurred in different areas of Newton, and began June 13 in the area of the 900 block of Walnut Street, according to police.
The other house breaks occurred along the 600 block of Dedham Street on June 19; on Helene Road on June 20; and in the area of the 700 block of Quinobequin Road on June 27.
Police also asked for the public’s help in identifying a person in photographs wearing a black hat and light-colored mask. At the time of the break-ins on Dedham Street and Helene Road, images from video surveillance showed the same person at each location, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Newton Police Department Detective Bureau at 617-796-2104 or use the anonymous tips line at 617-796-2121.
Since the first break-in, police have canvassed each neighborhood by knocking on doors and speaking with residents as part of their investigation, according to the statement. The department has also added about 80 directed patrols and is working with other law enforcement agencies in the area, police said.
Police reminded people to make sure their doors and windows are locked when they leave home. If residents plan on leaving home for a trip, visit the police website to report their home will be closed for more than five days.
Residents should tell a trusted neighbor or family member to check their home periodically, and not to post on social media that they’ll be away from home, the statement said. They should also use a timer to operate lights, use motion detector lights, ensure shrubs don’t hide windows, and suspend mail and newspaper deliveries.
Police asked residents to be aware of unusual behavior in their neighborhood and to call police at 617-796-2100. Residents can also contact the department’s Community Services Bureau for additional assistance at 617-796-2103, the statement said.
In Newton, there have been 45 house breaks so far in 2021, police said.
Police reported two previous series of house break-ins in March and April. Three men were arrested as part of the investigations into those break-ins, and there was no indication that anyone was specifically targeted, according to police.
John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.