Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office: B & E Crimes on the Decline


BOURNE – The total amount of break-ins occurring on Cape Cod continues to decline, according to the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office.

The Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is responsible for processing crime scenes and collecting forensic evidence for all Cape Cod law enforcement agencies.

A review of the 2018 BCI call volume shows that the number of commercial and residential breaking and entering’s (B&E) have continued to fall since 2016.

In 2016, the Sheriff’s Office says it collected forensic evidence for a total of 648 B&E’s on the Cape. In 2017, the total dropped to 508, and in 2018, dropped again to 437 B&E’s.

Of the 437 calls for forensic assistance in 2018, 79 fingerprints were identified, providing evidence that assisted local law enforcement in identifying and prosecuting suspects.

“A few years ago, the Sheriff’s Office made an investment in a new AFIS system – the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, and the new technology that was out there. Basically, this allows us, when we have a fingerprint at a crime scene, to electronically compare it to anything in the FBI or state database,” said Special Sheriff Jeff Perry.

“This new technology has resulted in a lot more hits and a lot more verifications and a lot more suspects being apprehended.”

In Massachusetts, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) contains millions of fingerprint exemplars that are electronically and quickly compared to unknown prints recovered from crime scenes. AFIS then provides a list of potential candidates that have similar fingerprint features which are then closely analyzed by the BCI Officer who ultimately makes an elimination or positive identification.  

“If a print is left behind at a crime scene and the prints are in the systems, with AFIS and BCI’s officers, we’re going to identify you!” BCI Unit Supervisor Matt Smith proudly stated.

While forced B&E’s have declined in recent years, the Sheriff’s Office says a concerning trend in Barnstable County is the amount of no-force breaks-ins, which has not seen a reduction. 

Unlocked doors and open windows of residences and motor vehicles remains an attraction to criminals seeking a quick and easy theft of money or personal items. Often times, the suspect merely has to reach in to grab an item and they’re gone in an instant. 

If somebody is a victim of a B&E, Special Sheriff Perry stresses the importance of reporting the crime and not disturbing the crime scene until authorities arrive and investigate.

“I think sometimes people have a vandalism or a larceny that they don’t consider significant and maybe won’t report it because they don’t want to be bothered. But what they don’t know it whether or not that incident is part of a larger incident or maybe there’s specific forensic evidence at their crime scene that might help solve other crimes,” Perry explained.  

“The second thing to do is to not disturb the crime scene. If your house was broken into or something was damaged, don’t go picking it up and don’t try to repair it until after our investigators come out and have the chance to photograph, fingerprint, collect DNA evidence, whatever the specific case may be regarding that crime.”

By TIM DUNN, News Center 

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