Community Impact: Chestnut Hill resident beefs up security after break-in

“Community Impact” stories take a deeper look at an individual incident to explore how crime can affect quality of life in our communities. If you would like to share your story, e-mail us at newsworks@whyy.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

When Gerald Tracy returned home after a recent weekend trip visiting family, he found a distinctly unwelcoming sight: His front door was wide open.

Unsure of what danger lurked inside, Tracy went to investigate while his wife Lynne stayed in the car with their 5-year-old twin boys.

The downstairs, said Tracy, appeared untouched. But the same couldn’t be said for the Chestnut Hill couple’s second floor bedroom.

“Right in the middle of the bed were all these drawers from a jewelry box,” said Tracy, a business development manager for the online news website phillyburbs.com and a member of the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Web Portal Task Force.

Tracy said the thief was strangely selective.

“They took a lot of bracelets. They didn’t take any necklaces. They left diamond earrings,” said Tracy, who estimated the stolen lot at around $10,000.

Unfortunately, said Tracy, whoever broke in also stole his 1930s Timex service watch his grandfather had worn as a member of the Army Corps of Engineers during the Normandy invasion.

“You can’t put a price tag on that watch,” said Tracy of the simple canvas-banded timepiece.

Tracy said he wasn’t that surprised by the late-December incident. Someone had stolen from their neighbors before. And his sons, he said, were somewhat oblivious to it all.

His wife, however, was shaken up afterwards and felt a bit uncomfortable sleeping in the house.

Since the burglary, Tracy said he’s changed all of the locks on his Roanoke Street home, including those on the basement door, which police suspect was the entry point for the intrusion. The family has also invested in an alarm system with motion sensors.

These are things Tracy admits he should have looked into sooner. “I wish we had made it a little bit more difficult for the prowlers,” he said.

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