ITHACA, N.Y. — Burglaries have tripled on East and South hills over the past month, Ithaca police said, a yearly occurrence that happens when students leave the city during the holidays.

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“It’s crazy but it’s true,” Officer Jamie Williamson said. He said officers usually handle as few as three or as many as seven burglaries a month. During this time of year, however, he said those numbers can even quadruple.

Most of the crimes happen, he said, at homes and vehicles that have one thing in common: they’re unlocked.

He said criminals literally walk around neighborhoods pulling on doors just to see if they get lucky with an open empty home or vehicle– and they often do. But locked doors, Williamson said, are generally enough to dissuade the average burglar.

Related: Is your home safe? Ithaca police offer security tips to keep in mind this winter

“Most of these are generated by drug use,” Williamson said. “People need to do their drugs, however, drugs aren’t free. So they have to do what they can.”

So every year, along with criminals hitting the streets, extra officers also gear up. Uniformed and undercover officers working overtime patrol the area, sometimes even catching burglars in the act of stealing.

And Williamson said the extra patrols work.

“Sometimes good police work costs money. There’s no way around it,” he said.

Note: It’s currently unclear exactly how many burglaries have taken place since the beginning of December or how much the total coast of overtime for officers will cost the city. But expect those numbers in a story later this month. 

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.